I can’t say I disagree with the New York Post’s editorial board when it comes to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s declaration of a “gun violence public emergency.” This was done to generate some positive headlines and make New Yorkers believe that the governor is doing something to address the increase in violent crime across the state, though most of what he announced on Tuesday won’t make much of a difference.
To do that, he’d need to start working to un-do all the foolish laws passed on his watch. But there’s not a word in his long release about fixing the disastrous bail reforms that he so proudly signed onto — not even the one that guaranteed that nobody would see jail time “just” because he got caught with an illegal gun.
Nor about undoing his “Say Their Name” package of restrictions on cops, which encourage police all across New York to look the other way rather than act when they see suspicious activity, lest the officer’s career be ruined by good-faith attempts to proactively protect the public.
Instead, he’s telling the State Police to do more to cut the flow of illegal guns from out-of-state — but guns used illegally in New York are typically a decade old. Imports aren’t driving this crisis, they’re just a safe target for “bold action.”
The Post’s editors add that it’s “plainly absurd” to think that Cuomo’s attempt to micromanage crime from Albany is really going to have an impact on violent crime, which is also true. But Cuomo’s announcement on Tuesday wasn’t really about crime. It was about guns, and the governor made it clear that his real goal is to go after the firearms industry, not the individuals who are actually responsible for the shootings in Saratoga, Rochester, Albany, or New York City.
In fact, I wish the Post had spent some time in its editorial on Cuomo’s move to allow junk lawsuits against gun makers and sellers by holding them responsible for the actions of criminals. Instead, the paper’s editorial focuses exclusively on the governor’s executive actions, which I agree are largely meaningless. The legislation that Cuomo’s signed, however, isn’t mere symbolism or an empty gesture aimed at generating headlines.
The new law empowers New York Attorney General Letitia James to sue gun manufacturers when their products are used in crimes, and James hasn’t exactly proven herself to be a non-partisan watchdog. She’s accused the NRA of being a terrorist organization, has tried to dissolve the group over financial mismanagement by top officials, and is now putting the firearms industry in her crosshairs.
The federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 gave gun manufacturers immunity from lawsuits related to the criminal misuse of their products. Supporters of New York’s bill argue that gun manufacturers can still be held liable if they violate other laws concerning the sale or marketing of firearms.
“Plain and simple, this was federal overreach to protect the gun industry in every way possible,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “But, today, New York state took an important step to right that wrong and protect its citizens from gun violence.”
It’s unclear, however, whether that argument will survive being challenged in court.
James said she is “ready to defend” the law, which, for example, would allow her or a locality to sue gun manufacturers for harming the public by neglecting to take steps to prevent firearms from being sold unlawfully in New York.
If James is ready to defend the new law in court, she’ll soon get her chance. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has already said that litigation is on the way, and we’ll have more details about the impending legal fight over New York’s new law targeting the firearms industry coming up later today on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, when the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Mark Oliva joins the show to discuss Cuomo’s pathetic emergency declaration as well as the truly dangerous legislation the governor signed on Tuesday.