By: José Niño
Earlier in July, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a gun manufacturer liability bill that gives the public the power to hold gun manufacturers liable for their products generating public disorder and the potential harm they could inflict.
“The only industry in the United States of America immune from lawsuits are the gun manufacturers, thanks to George Bush and the NRA,” Cuomo declared in a statement.
“This legislation will allow for a lawsuit to be brought in cases where reasonable controls and procedures are not in place, ensuring that responsible manufacturers and dealers will not be held accountable for the actions of criminal actors,” the governor continued.
The law is expected to face legal challenges in federal court, because it would violate the spirit of the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that became law in 2005. Under this act, firearms manufacturers and licensed dealers receive a high degree of immunity from lawsuits in the case their products are used in criminal acts.
“Plain and simple, this was federal overreach to protect the gun industry in every way possible,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James said about the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. “But, today, New York state took an important step to right that wrong and protect its citizens from gun violence.”
Several Second Amendment observers believe that this new law could be a death sentence for humbler firearms makers in New York who simply can’t bear the costs of the expensive legal proceedings that will come about once people are allowed to sue gun makers at will.
“For a small manufacturer like us, you know, we carry insurance but, you know, certainly could bankrupt a small business easily,” Mike Centola, owner of Allstar Tactical, said in an interview with WHEC TV.
Centola’s business is a small manufacturer and seller of AR-15s; he believes that New York’s new law is off-base and does not punish the right people — violent criminals — for gun-related crimes. In addition, Centola is of the view that New York’s law could compel firearms manufacturers from out-of-state to close their doors in New York, while increasing legal and compliance costs for local gunmakers.
“I think it’s quite ridiculous because the majority of firearms used in crimes are most likely stolen,” Centola said. “It seems like instead of holding the actual criminal liable for what they did, they’re now grasping at straws to hold the manufacturer more liable.
“If I have to go and spend more money to carry a higher liability insurance, it’s gonna trickle down and end up in our prices, and prices may go up,” Centola added.
Gun regulation of this sort is ultimately designed to price-out and shut down small gun manufacturers. Furthermore, gun regulation indirectly deprives prospective gun owners of their right to bear arms, as they have fewer options for acquiring firearms. All regulations have costs, and they are invariably passed on to the everyday person.
Anti-gun activists know that outright gun bans are not feasible at the moment, but they will settle for regulations that gradually make gun ownership more of a hassle. This is part of the gradualist approach they have in mind for destroying the Second Amendment, and it should be opposed at every step of the way.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.