Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation making it easier to bring civil lawsuits against gun manufacturers if they ‘knowingly or recklessly’ provide firearms that are involved in a “public nuisance.”
The New York Democrat signed the law earlier this week after having declared ‘gun violence’ in his state a ‘disaster emergency.’
“Of all the challenges we face every day in New York, few are as difficult to bear as the scourge of gun violence plaguing our communities,” Cuomo declared.
“The only industry in the United States of America immune from lawsuits are the gun manufacturers, but we will not stand for that any longer,” he added.
The governor’s website explains that the guns “can be considered a public nuisance even if the gun manufacturer did not purposely cause harm to the public.”
Bloomberg Law reports that Cuomo’s use of ‘public nuisance’ law “is thought to be a sort of legal loophole to work around federal protections.”
In 2005, then-President George W. Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act into law, which essentially prevented gun manufacturers from facing liability when crimes are committed with their products.
New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Executive Director Tom King predicted Cuomo’s gun manufacturer liability effort would face several lawsuits.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of lawsuits,” King told Spectrum News.
“I know we’re looking at doing something. I know the NRA is investigating this very seriously,” he continued. “I’m sure there is going to be challenges to it.”
Cuomo’s claim that gun manufacturers are the only industry exempt from being sued over the use of their products doesn’t quite hold up to scrutiny.
“They do have protections from civil lawsuits, but there are exceptions,” Factcheck.org reports.
The New York Times adds that gun manufacturers can still be sued “for breaches of warranty or if a manufacturer or dealer sells a gun knowing that it would be used in a crime.”
“How do you hold somebody responsible for vicarious liability?” King asked in an interview with Spectrum. “So if somebody steals your car and they go out and kill somebody with your car, are you responsible for that?”
Cuomo declaring gun violence a disaster emergency comes eight years after he signed the SAFE Act into law, widely considered at the time to be the toughest gun law in the nation.
“This new law will limit gun violence through common sense, reasonable reforms that will make New York a safer place to live,” the Democrat said at the time.
That particular gun control legislation seemingly wasn’t as advertised if Cuomo is declaring an emergency less than 10 years later.
The signing of the gun manufacturer liability legislation comes in the midst of a surge in gun violence in New York, including a 38% increase in shootings in New York City over the first six months of this year compared to the previous year.
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