Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced the lawsuit, which names some of the biggest gun manufacturers in the country as defendants, including Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Bushmaster, Glock and Remington.
“Members of our community have suffered too much for too long from gun violence,” Brown said in a statement. “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 lawsuit comes seven months after a racist mass shooting on May 14 at a Tops market on Buffalo’s east side, which killed ten Black people. According to police, the 18-year-old suspect, Payton Gendron, used a semi-automatic rifle that he legally purchased. But he modified it to fit a high-capacity ammunition magazine, which is illegal to possess in New York.
Gendron, now 19, pleaded guilty in November to 15 charges, including domestic terrorism motivated by hatred, murder, and attempted murder. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced in February 2023.
The city is seeking an unspecified monetary award to combat gun violence. City officials say the lawsuit does not intend to restrict legal gun ownership but to hold gunmakers accountable.
According to reports, this is the first time a city has sued major gun manufacturers under a 2021 New York law that allows lawsuits against gun manufacturers and sellers that create a “public nuisance” due to their business practices.
Buffalo claims that gun manufacturers caused the problem with marketing practices that emphasize the high capacity and ease of concealment of their products and by appealing to people with criminal intent. It also claims that gunmakers intentionally supply more guns than needed in the legitimate market and fail to take steps to stop illegal sales.