First-in-the-country gun accountability legislation is one step closer to be signed into law, as it heads to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk.
The bill, backed by Brooklyn Senator Zellnor Myrie, would remove the gun industry’s immunity from civil lawsuits.
It was passed by the State Assembly on Tuesday after being passed by the Senate last week. The votes come after eleven mayors from across New York state sent a letter to lawmakers urging them to pass the “critical gun sense legislation” before the end of this legislative session.
“Today’s vote makes New York the first state in the nation to put the communities victimized by gun industry negligence ahead of that industry’s profits and shareholders,” Myrie said in a statement.
“Responsible gun companies do not need special legal protections from lawsuits. Irresponsible gun companies do not deserve them.”
Myrie said the federal government granted near-blanket protection against civil lawsuits to gun dealers, manufacturers and distributors in 2005, and, as a result, the courthouse doors were closed to anyone seeking to probe “the reckless, dangerous and irresponsible practices of the gun industry’s worst actors.”
“[Actors] who we know are responsible for the overwhelming majority of firearms that end up on our streets,” he said. “Neighborhoods like Brownsville, Crown Heights and East Flatbush were granted no such protection. For that, our people — especially young people of color — have too often paid with their lives.”
The legislation would remove gun manufacturers’ immunity granted by civil liability law under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in New York State. The law currently prohibits states from applying civil liability law to the industry.
In their letter to the legislators, the mayors cite the example of a manufacturer who continuously sells guns to corrupt dealers with histories of violations, law enforcement interaction, and who are suspected of being major supplies of the Iron Pipeline, saying that manufacturer would be subject to civil prosecution and litigation under the law if passed.
Myrie said the goal in passing the legislation was to incentivize responsible behavior in the marketplace and encourage the gun industry to enact the strongest possible safeguards against illegal purchases, gun trafficking and other actions that allowed their products to end up on our streets.
The fight for the legislation was dedicated to victims of gun violence and their families in communities like the ones Myrie represents, he said.
“It is their needs, their safety and their well-being that we in public life have an obligation to protect, and it is in their honor that I urge the Governor to sign this bill.”
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