New law gives victims of gun violence in New York power to sue weapon dealer

State News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A new state bill has been signed into law, putting gun shop owners and manufacturers at risk of being held liable if a weapon they sold is used in a crime.  This, after Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a disaster emergency across all of New York due to gun violence.
   
This is out of Senate Bill S7196, The Public Nuisance Law, which will amend the general business law claiming there’s a danger to public health and safety caused by the sales and distribution of firearms in New York.  
 
For more than a decade, All-Star Tactical Gear has been serving the Rochester Metro supplying licensed firearms. They have issued with the the Public Nuisance law, including them potentially being responsible for any of their weapons supposedly ending up being used in a crime.  
 
“A firearm could be stolen, it could have changed hands many times before being used in a crime,” owner Mike Centola said. “So, they trace it back to the shop, and now that causes mom and pop or small business owners to have to carry higher insurance or risk losing their livelihood.”  
 
The law states: “The Existence of a public nuisance shall NOT depend on whether the gun industry member acted to cause harm.” Also, claims “The firearm industry’s failure to implement reasonable safety measures finds this also warrants liability.”  
 
“Perhaps in that situation that gun store did not have enough security, did not have security cameras, did not lock the door when they left for the night,” said Sen. Jeremy Cooney, who voted in favor of the bill. “If you’re going to sell a dangerous firearm then you have to have a higher standard of care.”  
 
Gun retailers like All-Star Tactical say current federal and state background check laws already make them do that.  
 
“If it’s a handgun they’re looking for you’re looking at a 9–15-month process in Monroe County right now just to get your permit,” Centola argued. “It’s a bunch of yes or no questions regarding any criminal background. From there, our system will flag it immediately and won’t even let us send it to the National system to the FBI.” 
   
Supporters of the new law like Sen. Cooney say it gives the public more power to bring accountability to reckless gun sales, without automatically implying every firearms dealer is guilty.  
 
“They still have to make their case, it’s not a closed-door case at any time,” Sen. Cooney said. “They still have to make the point and show and demonstrate there was some sort of behavior that could have prevented a gun from ending up on our streets.”  
 
Reports from the ATF indicate74% of firearms used in crimes around New York are from out of state, which Senator Cooney says are also targeted in this law giving people the power to take out of state firearms dealers to court if their weapons are recovered at crime scenes causing mayhem in their community.  
 
Senator Samra Brouk also voted in favor of the Public Nuisance law stating “We have seen too many lives lost, in part due to the irresponsible actions of gun companies. New York has taken a giant step forward in allowing the people affected by these reckless actions to hold the firearms industry accountable.” 

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