Federal law bars lawsuits against gun makers for the actions of a third party. However, the state of New York doesn’t actually care about that. They just passed their own bill to permit these cases to go forward.
However, there are some that have concerns about the impact of this law. In particular, how it may hurt local businesses.
Local officials are criticizing the new law, signed the same day Cuomo declared a disaster emergency to address a surge in gun violence seen throughout cities across the state in recent months.
Under the law, gun manufacturers and dealers can be sued for creating a “public nuisance” by failing to take steps to prevent firearms from being sold unlawfully.
The Washington County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution last month encouraging Cuomo not to sign the bill over concerns the law would impact local gun shops and machine shops that manufacture gun parts throughout the county.
Kingsbury Supervisor Dana Hogan, who drafted the resolution on behalf of Jane Havens, the owner of Calamity Jane’s Firearms and Fine Shoes store, said in an email that he wasn’t surprised the bill was signed and questioned whether it would help address gun violence.
“I sponsored and supported the county resolution because I don’t believe we are going to litigate our way out of gun violence in the United States,” he said. “I also don’t have a great deal of confidence that deeming gun violence as a ‘public nuisance,’ or more recently a ‘disaster emergency,’ will be effective in addressing the problem, but I hope I’m wrong.”
The problem, of course, is that we’ve seen too many people claim any straw buy is the result of the gun store failing to stop it.
While yeah, sometimes it’s kind of obvious, a lot of times it isn’t. The buyer goes in alone and says they want a certain gun. They handle it and say they like it, so they buy it, then walk out of the store. The Form 4473 asks if they’re buying the gun for themselves, even.
Yet when that gun ends up in a bad guy’s hands, that local gun store may be facing litigation for something they had no reasonable way of knowing they weren’t conducting a perfectly lawful sale. There’s nothing about that we can term “right.”
Look, if a gun store is knowingly conducting sales they know to be straw buys, then prosecute them. After all, that’s a criminal act in and of itself, so arrest them and let them deal with the legal system that way.
Otherwise, leave them the hell alone.
It’s important to understand that the outcome here may be an end to independent gun stores in New York state. It won’t take many lawsuits to bankrupt the good people who run these stores, even if they win. Legal battles are costly and time-consuming. Generally, the only winners are the lawyers, but in this case, there’s another set of winners. It’s the vehement anti-gunners who just want to make it more difficult for people to buy and sell guns.
For at least some of the proponents, running these stores out of business isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.
I applaud these local officials for making their voices heard. I just wish someone at the state level was interested in listening.