One Year Later, New York's Gun Industry Liability Law is Changing History

Zellnor Myrie

July 08, 2022

Myrie's First-in-the-Nation Law Survives Court Challenges, Spreads to Other States

ROOKLYN— Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Central Brooklyn) this week recognized the first-anniversary of New York's pioneering, first-in-the-nation gun industry liability law. New York's law allows civil suits to proceed against gun manufacturers and dealers who irresponsibly fuel the criminal firearm market. A federal law makes it virtually impossible to hold bad actors in the gun industry accountable, but allows states to pass laws enabling such suits to proceed. In July 2021, New York became the first state in the nation to enact such a law.

"Last year, New York started a movement that is sending shockwaves throughout an industry that's been unaccountable for far too long," said Senator Myrie. "By passing the nation's first state law to hold reckless and irresponsible gun companies liable for business practices that cause injury and death— and by successfully defending this law in federal court-— New York is leading the way and demonstrating that people are not powerless over a multi-billion dollar industry that has long enjoyed the strongest protections money can buy."

Since New York's law was signed one year ago:

  • Two states (Delaware and New Jersey) have signed similar bills into law, and a third (California) has passed legislation that is awaiting signature
  • The gun industry, after attempting to block the new law from being enforced last December, was dealt a significant blow in May when a federal judge rejected their arguments and allowed civil suits to proceed. The gun industry recently retained former US Solicitor General Paul Clement to appeal this ruling to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
  • After a gunman opened fire on a subway train in Senator Myrie's district earlier this year, one of the victims took advantage of the new law by filing a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer Glock, claiming it does not do enough to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands and specifically advertises its easy concealment and high firepower
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James and Mayor Eric Adams have used the law to sue ten gun retailers for selling tens of thousands of illegal, unfinished frames and receivers to New Yorkers who converted them into what are known as "ghost guns" at home by using basic tools. These "homemade" guns are untraceable due to the fact that the lack serial numbers

"Bad actors in the gun industry are now on notice: communities have powerful tools that can effectively fight back against manufacturers, dealers and marketers of deadly weapons that flood our streets," continued Senator Myrie. "New York may have been first, but we've already been joined by several other states who are working to protect their residents from an unaccountable industry that's operated with impunity for far too long. These tools are available to any state that wishes to use them, and I believe this is just the beginning of a movement to bring the gun industry in line with every other type of business in America that faces consequences for its actions."