Gunmakers Lose Challenge to New York law Allowing Lawsuits Against Industry

By Nate Raymond | May 26, 2022

A federal judge on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit by a group of gun manufacturers, distributors and retailers challenging the constitutionality of a New York law that allows the state and people affected by gun violence to sue the industry.

U.S. District Judge Mae D’Agostino in Albany rejected a request by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and gun manufacturers, including Smith & Wesson Brands Inc SWBI.O and Sturm, Ruger & Co Inc RGR.N, to enjoin enforcement of the statute.

The ruling came a day after a gunman killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the latest in a spate of mass shootings, prompting renewed calls by Democrats for tougher gun regulations.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, in a statement called the ruling “a moment of light and hope” following the tragedy in Uvalde and a mass shooting last week at a grocery store in Buffalo that claimed 10 lives.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade group for the firearms industry, in a statement said it was disappointed and plans to appeal. Others who sued with it included Glock Inc and Beretta USA.

Democratic former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last July signed into law a measure that seeks to overcome legal hurdles that have largely shielded the industry from lawsuits related to gun violence.

The law allows firearm sellers, manufacturers and distributors to be sued by the state, cities or individuals for creating a “public nuisance” that endangers the public’s safety and health.

The gun industry group argued the law wrongly imposes liability on companies operating anywhere in the country that make, sell or market guns or ammunition that are misused by criminals in New York.

But D’Agostino rejected arguments that the measure conflicted with the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which gives gunmakers protection from lawsuits, and unconstitutionally regulated interstate commerce.

D’Agostino said the law “in no way differs from the extraterritorial effect of the myriad of safety state laws and regulations with which every industry must comply.”

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