It was another violent weekend in New York City, with at least five people killed and more than 40 wounded in dozens of shootings across the five boroughs. So far this year there’ve been nearly 900 shootings in the city, an increase of about 100% over last year, and on Sunday evening President Donald Trump insinuated that he may be sending more federal law enforcement to the city.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2020
Some New York lawmakers, however, seem to have a different strategy in mind. Rather than go after the city’s violent criminals, they want to go after firearm manufacturers as well. State Senator Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn), says he’s introducing legislation today that would change the state’s criminal nuisance law to include the sale and manufacture of firearms.
With shootings up more than 75% in the city so far this year, Myrie said there are several actions lawmakers can take to stem the violence including increasing economic opportunity, funding schools and providing more resources for organizations with track records of preventing violence.
But he believes that attacking the root of the problem will go a long way to ending gun violence altogether.
“In the wake of a gun violence epidemic plaguing the city, state, and nation, we have a duty to hold all responsible parties accountable,” he said. ”While communities of color have died disproportionately from gun violence and COVID-19 over the past five months, gun manufacturers have seen their stocks and profits soar. Something isn’t right with that equation.”
The reason for those soaring stock prices is simple: record numbers of Americans are choosing to legally purchase a firearm, many of them for the very first time. They’re not turning around and committing these acts of violence in New York City; a place so restrictive that anyone who applies for permission to keep a gun in their home will have to pay hundreds of dollars in application fees and wait for months to be approved or denied.
It seems like Sen. Myrie wants to blame gun manufacturers for the actions of criminals, instead of actually holding the individuals who pull the trigger responsible for their crimes. With an anti-gun majority in both chambers of the state legislature, the odds are good that Myrie’s bill will be approved in the weeks ahead, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is almost certain to sign the bill if it gets to his desk.
The legislation won’t do anything to protect New Yorkers. In fact, if approved it will make things far worse, as some manufacturers may choose to stop doing business in the state. Criminals who acquire their guns on the black market won’t be phased by the new law, but residents hoping to legally exercise their Second Amendment rights may find themselves stymied by the law if gun companies were to pull out of the retail market in the state.
Myrie says he believes that his legislation provides an end run around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was designed to prohibit the kind of junk lawsuits that the senator is trying to enable. If the bill does become law, inevitably it will be challenged in court, but in the meantime it would serve more as a barrier to legal gun ownership than a tool to bring down New York City’s soaring crime rate.