With the deadline looming on New York states legislative session, Brooklyn Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D 20th District) is urgently navigating a gun control bill he authored through the legislative process.

The proposed legislation would allow civil liability lawsuits against gun makers and dealerswho negligently allow their weapons to end up on New York streets.

Myrie told BK Reader it was a shame that federal law allows accountability of most industries, such as pharmaceuticals, automobile and tobacco, but grants only one industry the gun industrynear blanket immunity.

At a time that gun violence is skyrocketing in Brooklyn and around the nation, we simply cannot afford to let the industry that produces these dangerous weapons off the hook any longer, he added.

On May 18, Myrie applauded his colleagues on the Senate Consumer Protection Committee for advancing his gun industry accountability bill, which was headed to the full Senate for a vote.

It must also pass the state Assembly before landing on the governors desk for enactment.

Sen. Zellnor Myrie leads gun control bill rally
Sen. Zellnor Myrie leads gun control bill rally. Photo: Elite Learners Inc.

Federal law currently shields the gun industry from most lawsuits while allowing states to enact their own laws to bypass the federal statute. 

However, no state has successfully drafted legislation that passed federal court challenges.

In 2008, a federal appeals court dismissed a New York City lawsuit against gun makers. The suit sought to stem the flow of illegal weapons into the city. However, the court ruled that the gun industry had legal immunity.

Myries bill would open the door to lawsuits against the gun industry by categorizing the misuse of guns as a nuisance.

It would amend the states criminal nuisance law to include the sale or manufacture of products that endanger peoples health or safety.

If it passes, Myrie’s bill would be the first law in the nation to end blanket legal immunity for gun manufacturers and dealers.

Meanwhile, the industry is fighting back. Lobbyists are spreading misinformation about the bill, according to the senator.

A recent poll, however, suggested that the vast majority of New Yorkers side with Myrie. More than 80% of voters want Albany to enact gun control legislation.

Parts of Myries district, which includes Brownsville and East Flatbush, is at the epicenter of the surge in gun violence. Anti-gun violence organizations in those neighborhoods stood with Myrie at a rally on Thursday to support the senators bill.

Gun manufactures must be held accountable, Camara Jackson, executive director of Elite Learners, a Brownsville-based youth mentorship and anti-gun violence organization, told BK Reader. We need them to take accountability for the guns that end up in our communities.

Elite Learners supports Sen. Myrie's call for gun industry accountability
Elite Learners supports Sen. Myrie’s call for gun industry accountability. Photo: Elite Learners Inc.

Jackson pointed to the skyrocketing wave of deadly shootings in Brooklyn this year and called for action.

We can no longer ignore the heightened gun violence because too many are losing their lives. We are losing our children in these streets, said Jackson, who spoke at the rally.

Indeed, Brooklyn accounted for roughly 37% of shootings across the city this year, concentrated in the central part of the borough where crime rates are usually higher, according to data reported in The New York Times. About 96% of shooting victims citywide are Black or Latino.

An estimated 74% of illegal firearms used in New York crimes originated in Southern states with weak gun control laws. Smugglers transport the weapons along the Interstate 95 corridor, dubbed the iron pipeline.  

To stem the flow, Myrie said its necessary to address the source of this problem.

Some gun companies are responsible, but others look the other way and balk at even the most basic precautions and preventive measures, he said.

We’ve used our laws to go after bad guys in the streets, but what about bad guys in the suits?

Nigel Roberts

Nigel Roberts is a New York-based, award-winning freelance journalist. During his career, Nigel has written for several newspapers and magazines. He has extensive experience covering politics and was a...

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  1. This is unconstitutional and a direct assualt against gun owners. We have extreme gun laws that have done nothing to prevent gun violence. Law abiding citizens should not lose their rights because of criminals. Its long overdo that we need laws in nys that will force repayment to taxpayers for litigating unconstitutional laws passed by our politicians. These idiots always push the envelope on unconstitutional law. Perhaps if the state democratic party has to actually pay their own legal fees and not taxpayers that we would get intelligent legislation. Not scams on constituents.
    Opening the door for lawsuits deemed as nuisance will force all alcohol manufacturers to be on the hook. If a dwi crash results in a fatality, the alcohol maker and distributor should be held legally liable. After all, alcohol abuse is a far greater nuisance than guns. Nothing in the constitution claims we must have alcohol, but there is the guarantee of gun ownership that cannot be infringed. Too bad Albany is full of anti american tools and fools.

  2. Or you could arrest and prosecute the shooters. Something that Myrie has never had any interest in doing.

  3. How can a manufacture or retailer control the illegal and inappropriate use of their product after it has left their warehouse or store?

    The primary purpose of an automobile is to get one from place to place. Most of us have these things and use them appropriately. When someone chooses to plow into a bunch of people, or drive drunk – I think most of us would agree that this is an individual choice, not a matter of a defective product, and certainly nothing that the manufacture or the car dealer has any control over!

    With firearms however, the manufacture and the reseller of the product is expected by many to somehow keep people from illegally and irresponsibly using their product.

    Perhaps a new job position could be created, that of “MONITOR”. A full time person, paid for by gun makers, to stay with the gun owner 24 hours a day and see that he does nothing improper with his firearm?

    Does that sound practical or workable to anyone at all?

  4. OK its been a few days since I left my comment above. I am somewhat disappointed not to see any comments defending the concept put forth by mostly politicians, that any manufacturer of any product be held responsible for its illegal, careless, or inappropriate criminal misuse.

    Seriously, can no one defend this kind of proposal?

    Sure shootings are a problem, its horrible really. But seriously, would it not be more realistic to come at the problem from another direction? For example, what is the root cause of this violence? Who and why are these actors pulling the triggers?

    Myrie and his colleagues should be seriously looking at Root Cause Mitigation. Get to the heart of the problem – do not embrace more unworkable and questionable knee-jerk solutions. Solutions that don’t pass the moral and logical smell test…

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