City Of Buffalo Sues Gun Makers Under New Public Nuisance Law

The city of Buffalo, New York, filed lawsuits against several gun manufacturers in the U.S. on Tuesday, Dec. 20. The city claimed the manufacturers have contributed to the public nuisance of “unlawful possession, transportation, and disposition of firearms and the utilization of guns.”

The city claimed in the lawsuit that the manufacturers have engaged in marketing strategies that emphasize high capacities and ease of concealment, targeted advertising, and “supplying more firearms than the legitimate market can bear,” which has led to increased gun violence in Buffalo.

The city said the manufacturers’ actions have “created, maintained, or contributed” to a condition that endangers the public’s safety and health.

“Members of our community have suffered too much for too long from gun violence,” said Buffalo City Mayor Byron Brown. “We must do everything we can to decrease gun violence. Enabling the possession of illegal guns destroys lives and deeply affects our neighborhood, especially in Black and Brown communities.”

The plaintiffs named in the lawsuit include Beretta U.S.A. Corp, Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc., Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC, Bushmaster Firearms Industries, Inc., Glock, Inc., Ruger & Co., Inc., and Sig Sauer, Inc. The city also named Polymer80, a manufacturer of gun kits known as “ghost guns,” as a plaintiff.

According to the lawsuit, the city claimed that the gun makers are aware that criminals are an important segment of the gun industry market, but they have refused to do anything about it.

The city also claimed that the gun makers have violated a New York business regulation prohibiting deceptive or dangerous business practices.

While the majority of the plaintiffs have remained largely silent, Bushmaster has released a statement labeling the city’s allegation as false and that the charges are “potentially libelous.”

“Our counsel is currently reviewing the complaint and evaluating a path forward to address both this lawsuit and the potentially libelous claims made against Bushmaster Firearms Industries, Inc.,” the company said.

Gun rights activists described the lawsuit as frivolous and accused city leaders and politicians of blaming the gun industry for their failure to combine crime.

“This is no different from the frivolous and unsuccessful lawsuits filed against firearm manufacturers in the late 1990s and early 2000s by crime-ridden big-city mayors across the country,” said Senior Vice President and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Larry Keane. Those lawsuits failed because they were legally and factually baseless. But they did, however, result in Congress passing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005 by a broad bipartisan margin.