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AG Nessel Joins Coalition Supporting Accountability for Firearms Industry

LANSING Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general, led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, supporting a New York law to hold the firearms industry accountable. In an amicus brief, the coalition argues that New York has the authority to protect residents and public safety. 

New York enacted its statute to hold gun industry members accountable for the irresponsible sale and marketing of firearms when that conduct results in harm to the public. Under the law, public officials or private citizens can file a lawsuit against a gun industry member when they knowingly or recklessly endanger the safety or health of the public in New York state through the unlawful or unreasonable sale, manufacturing, importing, or marketing of firearms. Gun industry members can also be held liable when they fail to use reasonable controls and procedures to prevent firearms from being unlawfully used or sold in New York state.  

"It's time for gun manufacturers and dealers to be held accountable when they act irresponsibly, such as in failing to prevent the straw purchasing of guns or employing marketing strategies that target vulnerable youth," Nessel said. "The New York law is common-sense firearm legislation that imposes reasonable regulations to respond to the gun industry’s misconduct. I proudly stand with my colleagues in supporting New York's desire to protect the public by enacting this new law."

Several members of the firearms industry sued New York, arguing that the statute is preempted by federal law and is unconstitutional. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York dismissed the lawsuit. The coalition is now asking the appellate court to affirm the lower court’s ruling, which found that the law is not preempted by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act — a federal law that limits civil remedies against gun industry members for harms caused solely by the misconduct of individuals who use firearms. The court also found that the law did not run afoul of either the Dormant Commerce Clause or the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. 

AG Nessel and the coalition argue that New York’s statute is lawful and benefits the public. As the brief explains, empirical evidence suggests a direct link between the harmful effects of gun violence and the irresponsible actions of gun industry members, such as dealers failing to enact reasonable controls to prevent straw purchasing or manufacturers designing novel marketing schemes to target vulnerable youth. New York’s law serves the important purpose of deterring gun industry members from engaging in irresponsible practices that actively contribute to increasing gun violence and, where necessary, holds those who engage in such tactics accountable for their actions.

Joining AG Nessel and AG Raoul in the filing the brief are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.


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