City of Rochester Mayor Malik Evans and City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced lawsuits against major gun manufacturers and distributors Tuesday, according to press releases by the respective cities.
The lawsuits aim to hold the gun industry accountable for the sale, manufacture, distribution, importing and marketing of firearms, claiming the defendants manufactured or distributed thousands of firearms which were later recovered at crime scenes, according to the Rochester and Buffalo press releases. The lawsuits, brought by the same firm, Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, target Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Glock, Remington, Bushmaster and ghost gun companies.
“Members of our community have suffered too much and for too long from gun violence. We must do everything we can to decrease gun violence. Enabling the possession of illegal guns destroys lives and deeply effects our neighborhoods, especially in Black and Brown communities. I am proud to stand up to the gun industry and fight for the safety of people living, working, and visiting the City of Buffalo,” Brown said in the release.
“Addressing gun violence is a top priority of my administration, and I want to tackle this issue on every front,” Evans said in the release. “Violence prevention requires a multitude of strategies and a significant amount of collaboration. This is just the latest tactic I will dedicate to eradicating gun violence in Rochester.”
“We have not had a chance to review the allegations in full at this time, but upon first blush, the verified allegations against Bushmaster Firearms Industries, Inc. are false. Our counsel is currently reviewing the complaint and evaluating a path forward to address both this lawsuit and the potential libelous claims made against Bushmaster Firearms Industries, Inc.,” a Bushmaster spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Gun violence in Buffalo “surged” in 2020 as 355 people were killed or injured, according to the release. As of March 2021, the number people shot in Buffalo jumped 140% compared to the previous year.
In May, Payton Gendron, 18, murmured 10 people and injured multiple others in a Buffalo supermarket while live-streaming the attack on Twitch. Gendron used a Bushmaster XM-15 semiautomatic rifle, according to The Washington Post.
In Rochester, gun violence has continued to grow, according to the release. The rise in crime is connected to economic stress linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, national civil unrest and the increased availability of illegal firearms, according to the release.
“Going grocery shopping, walking home from school…these mundane activities should not result in gun violence incidents,” Partner Salvatore C. Badala of Napoli Shkolnik said in the release. “The City of Rochester refuses to ignore the full scope of those responsible for innocent lives being lost, and is taking action.”
Under New York law A.6762B/S.7196, lawsuits may be brought against gun manufacturers under the premise that they are a “public nuisance,” effectively bypassing the immunity provided to gun manufacturers under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, according to the release.
In May 2022, District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino of the Northern District of New York upheld the “public nuisance” law, according to the release. The law states that “no gun industry member … shall knowingly or recklessly create, maintain or contribute to a condition in New York … that endangers the safety or health of the public through the sale, manufacturing, importing or marketing of a qualified product.”
“Gun violence is only getting worse, and it is impacting the entire community. The City of Buffalo decided to move forward and bring change,” Badala said in the Buffalo release.
Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Glock and Remington did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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