The gun control movement has dreamed of destroying the firearms industry for decades, and their allies in the New York legislature are giving them a helping hand with the passage of a new bill that aims to circumvent the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act; a 2005 law approved by a bipartisan majority in Congress that prevents junk lawsuits from being filed against the gun industry.
On Tuesday, lawmakers in Albany gave their final approval to a number of gun control bills, including a measure that would allow gun makers to be sued under the state’s public nuisance laws.
“Right now, only one industry in the United States enjoys blanket immunity from civil liability under federal law for negligence in the use of their products; the gun industry,” said Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, a Democrat from Albany who backed the bill with Brookyn Sen. Zellnor Myrie. “Passing this landmark legislation will allow gun manufacturers knowingly utilizing bad actors and dealers to market their products to be held civilly liable for the damage they cause on our streets. We have always led the nation on gun legislation — and we aren’t letting up now to help keep New Yorkers safe from the scourge of gun violence.”
Under Myrie’s legislation, if a gun is legally purchased, but subsequently stolen and used in a crime, the firearms manufacturer, distributor, and retailer could all be sued and held financially responsible for the actions of a criminal. As the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s general counsel and senior vice president Larry Keane told Bearing Arms a few weeks ago, the measure poses an existential threat to the firearms industry.
If this bill were to become law, Keane says many gun companies would simply pull out of the state of New York, but that alone wouldn’t be enough to stop the threat, because the bill doesn’t attempt to confine itself to guns originally sold in the state. Let’s say a gun was legally sold in the state of Virginia in 2011, but was stolen in a burglary a few years later and ended up at a crime scene in New York this year. Under Myrie’s bill the manufacturer, and even the Virginia gun shop could be subject to litigation in the state of New York, even if they followed federal and state law when it came to the manufacture and sale of the firearm.
Imagine if Democrats in New York tried to apply this same legal strategy to other industries. A 16-year old steals a case of beer from his neighbor’s garage, gets drunk, then “borrows” dad’s car and ends up getting into an accident that injures another. Who in their right mind would think that it’s the fault of Anheuser Busch or the Ford motor company?
Far from being a strategy that will cut down on criminal misuse of firearms, Myrie’s bill, if it becomes law, will end up making it much harder for law-abiding New Yorkers to legally acquire a firearm, and could ultimately threaten the very existence of the firearms industry.
Another bill approved by New York lawmakers on Tuesday poses another threat; this time to folks who like to build their own firearms.
Another bill would bar the possession of so-called “ghost guns” in New York that are assembled using unserialized parts that are more difficult for law enforcement to trace. Gunsmiths would be required to serialize and register with the State Police any unserialized firearm, rifle, shotgun, finished frame or receiver, as well as unfinished frames and receivers in their possession.
While New York Democrats are taking aim at legal gun owners, they’ve also made a deal to go light on criminals by making it harder to return parole violators to prison. In fact, Democrats are set to unveil a list of prisons this week that they want to shut down, even as violent crime is soaring in the state.
New York’s Democrats have a soft spot for criminals, but are taking a hardline approach to those exercising their Second Amendment rights. Residents are already fleeing the state in record numbers, and if Andrew Cuomo ends up signing the legislation that gives the green light to junk lawsuits against the firearms industry, expect that exodus to include more gun makers and gun owners in the months ahead.