The city of Buffalo files a lawsuit against multiple firearm manufacturers
According to Buffalo officials, the city lawsuit does not intend to restrict legal gun ownership — only hold gun makers liable.
The city of Buffalo in New York has filed a lawsuit against some of the nation’s largest firearm manufacturers, a move that comes seven months after an 18-year-old opened fire in a racially motivated attack at a Tops Friendly Market, killing 10 people and injuring three more.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced the “first of its kind” lawsuit on Tuesday, naming weapon producers such as Beretta, Bushmaster, Glock, Remington and Smith & Wesson, ABC7 News reported. It also names Arm or Ally and Polymer, a pair of ghost gun retailers, as defendants.
The lawsuit accuses the manufacturers of failing to provide gun dealers with the necessary training to avoid illegal transactions and of continuing to work with distributors who supply an abnormally high number of guns linked to crime scenes.
Cariol Horne, 54, holds up a sign near the fenced-off parking lot outside Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, during a July remembrance ceremony for the 10 people killed in a May shooting at the store. The city of Buffalo this week filed a lawsuit against several top gun manufacturers. (Photo: Joshua Bessex/AP)
According to Buffalo officials, the lawsuit does not intend to restrict legal gun ownership.
“Members of our community have suffered too much for too long from gun violence,” Brown said in a statement, according to ABC7. “We must do everything we can to decrease gun violence. Enabling the possession of illegal guns destroys lives and deeply affects our neighborhood, especially in Black and Brown communities.”
Law enforcement officials classified the May 14 shooting at Tops supermarket as a “hate crime and racially motivated violent extremism,” The Associated Press previously reported. All except two of the 13 victims were Black.
The white gunman, Payton Gendron, now 19, faces life in prison after pleading guilty to 15 charges, including murder, murder as a hate crime and domestic terrorism motivated by hate.
In his attack, Gendron used a semi-automatic rifle that he legally purchased from a firearms store in Pennsylvania and modified to accommodate a large-capacity ammo magazine, which is illegal in New York, according to ABC7.
Buffalo has seen a surge in gun violence since 355 people were killed or injured in shootings in 2020. The number of shootings during the first two months of 2021 increased by 140 percent compared to the same period in 2020.
Brown claimed that certain gun manufacturers’ actions have unduly interfered with the public’s right to use open spaces without fear.
“All of the Defendants manufactured or distributed thousands of firearms recovered in crimes committed in the City of Buffalo and New York State,” the lawsuit alleges, ABC7 reported.
City Corporation Counsel Cavette A. Chambers said municipal authorities have been abiding by New York’s public nuisance statutes. They will consider “additional defendants and causes of action as they move on with discovery,” she contends.
According to the lawsuit, by emphasizing a firearm’s great capacity and ease of concealment, gun producers and merchants have maintained the public nuisance of unlawful holding, transportation and disposal of weapons and the usage of guns in the commission of crimes. This type of marketing, which also appears in movies and on social media, targets potential customers intending to defraud them.
The suit requests a jury trial, as well as compensatory and punitive damages — plus an abatement fund with sufficient resources to address the public nuisance gun manufacturers are liable for producing, worsening and sustaining.
The five major gun manufacturers named “acknowledged that they have no system process in place to gather safety data related to their products,” and they could not “produce any internal analyses of the dangers caused by sellers of their military-style weapons to civilians,” the lawsuit states, according to ABC7. None of the defendants had an immediate response to the lawsuit.
“The city of Buffalo is not going to let these gun industry members continue to flood our City with illegally possessed guns,” Chambers said, the station reported. “We must hold them accountable.”
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