The lyric may be about New York City, but some firearms manufacturers located in other parts of the state may find it difficult to “make it” in New York, at least after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the first-of-its-kind liability bills into law earlier this month. It allows the public to hold gun manufacturers liable for their products creating a public nuisance and the harm the products may cause.
The law is likely to be challenged in federal court, as it would be in direct conflict with the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that was signed into law in 2005. The legislation provided firearms manufacturers as well as licensed dealers with a high level of immunity from being held liable when crimes are committed with their products.
“The only industry in the United States of America immune from lawsuits are the gun manufacturers, thanks to George Bush and the NRA,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement, essentially echoing a similar sentiment made by President Joe Biden earlier this year.
“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’s office added.
“Plain and simple, this was federal overreach to protect the gun industry in every way possible,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James noted. “But, today, New York state took an important step to right that wrong and protect its citizens from gun violence.”
The newly signed law could be a death blow to smaller firearms manufacturers in the Empire State.
“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 in Greece, New York, told WHEC TV.
Centola, whose business is both retail and a small manufacturer of AR-15s, said he felt that the new legislation misses the mark when it comes to holding the right people accountable for violent gun crimes. He said that it could force out-of-state firearms manufacturers to stop selling their products in New York, while driving up the costs for any local gun maker.
“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 and questioned why firearms were singled out as a public nuisance.
“A public nuisance is ridiculous,” Centola said. “Why do we choose firearms to be a public nuisance? You know, a vehicle could be used in vehicle manslaughter, a hammer could be used, knives, you know… a fork.”
New York’s approach could be seen as a less direct way to drive manufacturers out of business, but earlier this year, some lawmakers in Massachusetts called for a complete push to ban “assault weapon manufacturing.” Such a move would impact large companies including Smith & Wesson, but also dozens of smaller gun manufacturers in the Bay State.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.