NYS lawmakers want to hold gun industry accountable for rise in shootings

Local News

NEW YORK — Gun violence is on the rise.

According to the group New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, shootings surged across all five boroughs this year.

The group also reported a 75% increase in shootings across the state, and an 85% increase in gun-related homicides.

“It’s not just in Brownsville,” said Rebecca Fischer, the group’s executive director. So many downstate and upstate cities and towns are seeing an uptick in gun violence.

Fischer and other advocates against gun violence joined State Sen. Zellnor Myrie Thursday to pressure lawmakers into passing legislation he’s sponsoring, along with Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, to hold industry players like gun manufacturers and gun dealers accountable in civil court.

Myrie and advocates gathered say both companies and gun dealers irresponsibly fuel the criminal firearm market and cite statistics that show 74% of guns used in crimes in New York were purchased in states with lax gun laws and enforcement; alleged perpetrators then travel along the “iron pipeline” of I-95 into New York.

“We talk about stopping the bad guys in the streets, but what about the guys in the suites that profit off the death of our people,” Myrie said at his press conference.

Currently, most civil cases against gunmakers and dealers are stalled by the 2005 Protection Of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act passed by Congress. The act, known as PLACA, grants broad immunity to the overall gun industry from prosecution over crimes committed with their products.

One of those was the shooting of now-13-year-old Jayden Grant of Crown Heights.

He was 11 in 2019 when he was caught in the crossfire of a bullet meant for someone else. He attended the press conference in his wheelchair along with his grandmother.

“Had that gun not been in my neighborhood, Jayden would not be in this wheelchair,” Bessie Watson-Grant said from the podium.

Click here for a GoFundMe supporting Jayden Grant’s recovery.

If passed, Myrie’s bill would the first in the nation to use an exemption that allows states to bypass the federal statute. He insists it is only targeted at the bad actors in the industry.

“This is for things like not filling out background check information, not keeping track of inventory,” said Myrie. “We want to make sure that families can bring those bad actors into court.”

Myrie’s bill has been advanced out of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, and he hopes to bring it to the floor of the Senate for a vote before the state legislative session ends on June 10.

Correction: This story initially misreported a name. It has since been updated.

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