Democrats in New York are pushing a new piece of legislation designed to go around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and allow gun companies and other businesses in the firearms industry to be sued when a criminal misuses their product.
While the PLCAA is designed to prevent such junk lawsuits from being filed, State Sen. Zellnor Myrie of Brooklyn is pushing a bill that would allow lawsuits to be filed… as long as they use a particular legal argument.
The federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act gave gun companies immunity from suits over the illegal use of their products. But it contained some exceptions, such as when they violate laws relating to “the sale or marketing of the product.”
After the act’s passage, then-New York City Michael Bloomberg carried on with legal challenges against manufacturers, claiming they had run afoul of the state’s nuisance law. But a federal appellate court found in 2008 that this law wasn’t suitable grounds for a case, as the exemption applies only to laws that “expressly regulate firearms.”
Myrie’s bill would categorize the misuse of guns as a nuisance.
Industry members could be sued for actions that “recklessly create, maintain or contribute to a condition in New York state that endangers the safety or health of the public through the sale, manufacturing, importing, or marketing of” a gun.
“There is no question in my mind that this is a public health crisis and a public nuisance that should be dealt with accordingly,” he said. “They have a business model that is predicated on their products flowing into the illegal market, and although they are loosely regulated in other states, the blood that is spilled ends up being the kids in Brownsville and Rochester and Albany, and I don’t think New Yorkers should accept that.”
“We can really set a standard that the rest of the nation could follow, that if you are going to make money off a deadly product, then you should build in the safety precautions that are necessary to protect the product from killing people on our streets,” Myrie said.
In other words, if a criminal steals a gun or buys it on the black market and then uses it in a carjacking, Myrie wants the gun maker to be sued because they made and marketed the firearm.
As POLITICO notes, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also included a similar provision in a gun control package that he recently unveiled, and gun control groups are pushing Democrats to adopt similar language in as many states as possible.
This legislation isn’t designed to stop crime. It’s meant to destroy the firearms industry. Even if every one of the inevitable lawsuits fueled by the bill are eventually tossed out of court, gun makers would still be forced to spend millions of dollars defending themselves in these cases. And if a jury were to decide one of these cases in favor of the plaintiff, the financial award could be large enough to force a gun maker to close up shop.
New York is putting repeat violent offenders back on the street with little to no consequences for their actions, but Myrie doesn’t seem bothered by that. Instead, he’s incensed by the legal sale of firearms to responsible gun owners. And with an anti-gun majority in both chambers of the state legislature, he’s likely to find enough allies to enact this atrocious bill into law. It won’t make anyone safer, but it could very well make it impossible for law-abiding citizens to exercise their right to keep and bear arms.