Cuomo signs Myrie’s gun industry liability bill into law

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by elected officials and advocates, makes an announcement and signs executive orders making gun violence a public health emergency in New York State at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.
Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Brooklyn) on Tuesday joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Member Patricia Fahy (D-Albany), gun violence survivors, families of victims and advocates for the signing of a new law that would allow 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.

“Our federal laws have granted extraordinary protections to the gun industry, while leaving New Yorkers, especially Black and Brown communities, vulnerable to its deadly products,” said Myrie, representative for the 20th Senate District in Central Brooklyn.

“Today, we’re working to level the playing field and give our people a chance to hold this industry responsible for its reckless business practices,” added Myrie, whose grandmother hailed from Jamaica. “I thank Gov. Cuomo, Assemblymember Patricia Fahy and advocates from across the state and nation for helping make New York a national leader in gun industry liability and public safety.”

“We thank Sen. Myrie and our other lawmakers for ensuring that firearm manufacturers and sellers bear their share of responsibility to help reduce the misuse of guns through senseless violent acts,” said US Virgin Islands-born Pastor Gil Monrose, president, 67th Precinct Clergy Council in Brooklyn, popularly known as The GodSquad.

“We are very pleased today to witness firsthand Governor Cuomo signing the gun industry accountability bill into law,” he added. “We believe that this is an important step in the right direction because public safety is a shared responsibility, and stronger legislation can definitely help ensure that more of us play a role in making our communities safer.”

“This is a historic day for New York. With this bill signing, New York has become the first state in the nation to tackle the negative ramifications of the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to ensure that New Yorkers who have been affected by irresponsible gun industry conduct can hold the industry accountable,” said Brady President Kris Brown. “The bills signed by Gov. Cuomo today will make the state safer and Brady is grateful for Gov. Cuomo’s attention to and leadership on keeping New Yorkers safe from gun violence and to Sen. Myrie for ensuring that these historic and common-sense bills become law.”

Camara Jackson, founder and executive director of Elite Learners, Inc., said Black and Brown communities are facing “a public health crisis caused by the reckless disregard displayed by gun manufacturers.

“Gun manufacturers must be held accountable for the dangers their products present,” Jackson said. “Gov. Cuomo, we appreciate your support of this bill. We truly believe this will be a major step towards combating gun violence in our communities.”

David Pucino, Senior Staff Attorney for Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said: “This bill will provide New Yorkers with an avenue to seek justice, reopening the courtroom doors for victims who have suffered as a direct result of the gun industry’s irresponsible practices and reintroducing accountability to an industry that has acted with impunity for too long.

“Giffords thanks Sen. Myrie and Assemblymember Fahy for their leadership on this issue and applauds New York for the passage of this first-of-its-kind legislation,” he said.

Rebecca Fischer, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said gun violence is “devastating communities across New York State — from Brooklyn to Albany and up through Buffalo — and yet irresponsible gun dealers are rarely held accountable for these tragedies.

“Federal law has been shielding the gun industry from liability and enabling gun companies to profit off the death of Black and Brown New Yorkers,” she said. “Today, we are proud to stand with Sen. Myrie as the governor signs this life-saving legislation into law to finally give survivors and victims of gun violence a much-needed avenue for justice.

“We applaud the New York State legislature and the governor for their leadership as New York leads the nation once again in the fight to end gun violence and save lives,” Fischer continued.

Myrie said that “for far too long, gun companies in Florida, Georgia or Virginia have acted irresponsibly, and people in places like Brownsville, Arbor Hill and Buffalo’s East Side have faced the consequences.

“Starting today, these costs will also appear on the balance sheets and profit statements of the most reckless manufacturers and dealers of these dangerous weapons,” he said. “While nothing can undo the damage done by acts of gun violence, we hope and expect that accountability will bring change to an industry that has evaded it for so long.

“If it does not, the state must use its new authority to enforce the law and protect the lives and safety of all New Yorkers,” the senator added.