Cuomo Proclaims Gun Violence State of Emergency, Targets Firearm Industry

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order on Tuesday declaring “gun violence” has created a state of emergency in the state, but it’s not the creation of an Office of Gun Violence Prevention or the establishment of summer jobs programs that should have gun owners concerned. No, the most substantive part of Cuomo’s plan isn’t actually getting a lot of attention in the state press, though it could have a catastrophic impact on the firearms industry.

Cuomo said the goal is to focus on the hot spots where the shootings are happening and also develop new job-training programs to help communities out of poverty.

“You know where it’s coming from. You know where you need to go,” Cuomo said of the shootings.

Cuomo said New York will invest $57 million into job-development programs.

Cuomo displayed maps that showed only small parts of cities in New York are where most of the homicides are. He cited state statistics that showed about 4,000 youth aged 18 to 24 accounted for 49% of the cities’ shootings.

He said the state will boost state police’s efforts to fight illegal guns coming into New York in coordination with neighboring states, saying it will sign a bill into law that makes it easier to sue gun manufacturers.

That bill, sponsored by state Sen. Zellnor Myrie, is aimed directly at putting the gun industry out of business by allowing lawsuits to be filed holding gun makers and sellers responsible for the actions of criminals.

Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, addressed the bill a few weeks ago on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, calling it “existential threat” to the future of the firearms industry.

As Keane explains, Myrie’s bill would in essence declare the firearms industry to be a public nuisance, allowing manufacturers, distributers, and retailers to be sued anytime a gun is used in the commission of a crime in the state. The proposal is a flagrant attempt to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was passed by a bi-partisan vote in Congress back in 2005. That federal law is meant to prevent these types of junk lawsuits that are designed to bankrupt and destroy the firearms industry, but Myrie and his anti-gun colleagues believe they’ve found a loophole by making changes to the state’s public nuisance laws.

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.

Rather than holding criminals accountable for their own action, Cuomo’s now weaponizing the courts to allow gun control activists to sue firearms manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for violent crimes. Far from making the state a safer place, if it’s allowed to stand the law will make it nearly impossible for residents to legally acquire a firearm for self-defense. And because the bill allows for out-of-state manufacturers and retailers to be sued, the impact could be felt in all 50 states.

Cuomo’s signature on this bill is the most significant victory this year for the gun control lobby. Let’s hope that their success is short-lived, and that the courts see this for what it is; an attempt to do an end run around Congress and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in order to bankrupt the firearms industry.