NY Mayors Rally Behind Bill Permitting Lawsuits Against Gun Makers

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File

Lawsuits against gun manufacturers have little to do with actual culpability by these companies and everything to do with trying to make the cost of business too high. Oh, there are exceptions, sure, such as when someone sues because their gun exploded with standard ammunition, but most of the lawsuits we’ve heard against manufacturers were because of what a third party did with a firearm.

That’s why we got the Protect of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Congress recognized that these lawsuits weren’t about justice, they were about trying an end-around on the Second Amendment. After all, you don’t need gun control if no one will sell guns, so they stopped these lawsuits.

Now, some New York mayors are backing another attempted end-around.

Mayors from around New York state on Tuesday urged top Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly to take up a new gun control measure in the waning days of the legislative session.

The proposal, backed by Assemblywoman Pat Fahy and Sen. Zellnor Myrie, would make it easier for civil lawsuits to be brought against firearm manufacturers. The measure would expand the state’s existing public nuisance law by adding gun makers who fail to take proper or reasonable safe guards to have their product fall into the wrong hands.

“Our cities need this tool, and in the face of federal inaction on the issue, it is up to you, our state legislative leaders, to provide it,” the mayors wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “We need accountability for the wrongs that have been committed,and we need to incentivize a change in behavior to stem the flow of illegal guns. Pass this bill, helpus save lives and serve as a model for the rest of the country.”

No, your cities don’t need any such thing, especially since these lawsuits are prohibited by federal law.

See, what these mayors want to do isn’t about accountability. If it were, they’d be looking at criminals and suing them for their actions. No, it’s about punishing lawful gun manufacturers for what a third party did.

It’s the equivalent of suing Ford and claiming they’re culpable for drunk drivers.

Besides, this effort really only betrays their ignorance of the firearm industry and the laws already on the books.

For one thing, gun manufacturers rarely sell to individuals or even individual stores. Most sales go through distributors who then sell to the stores. When someone orders a gun directly from the manufacturer, it still has to go to a licensed gun dealer.

In all of these cases, the gun dealer has to conduct a NICS background check or a state-mandated equivalent. Either way, the manufacturers aren’t really dealing directly with the customers.

So why are they somehow responsible for what a criminal does with a gun they illegally obtained?

Anti-gunners lament the protections for the gun industry and point out how no other industry enjoys these immunities. This is, in fact, true. No one else is so protected by such laws.

Then again, no other industry needs such protection, either, and that’s why the law is in place.