The city of Rochester plans file a lawsuit seeking to recover damages from gun manufacturers over crimes and violence linked to illegal guns.
“Addressing gun violence is a top priority of my administration, and I want to tackle this issue on every front,” Mayor Malik Evans said in a statement released Tuesday announcing the pending court action.
The lawsuit’s announcement comes on the heels of the city’s announcement that it plans a comprehensive report tracing illegal guns’ path from manufacturers to Rochester. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives statistics show Rochester to have the highest per-capita rate of recovery of illegal firearms in the state.
City officials say the court action will seek to hold gun makers and sellers responsible for the “unreasonable sale, manufacture, distribution, importing, and marketing” of firearms.
Illegal guns are “inextricably linked” to a host of ills and criminal conduct plaguing the city as well as to gun violence itself, says the city’s top lawyer, Corporation Counsel Linda Kingsley.
The city has engaged Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, a New York City-based firm with offices in a dozen states, as outside counsel to press the court action.
Mundane activities like grocery shopping should not result in gun violence incidents, says Salvatore Badala, the Napoli Shkolnik partner handling the case.
Manufacturers identified through guns seized in crimes committed in Rochester as possible defendants could include Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Glock, Remington and Bushmaster. So-called ghost-gun companies like Polymer 80 and Arm or Ally could also be targeted, city officials say.
The soon-to-be filed court action will charge gun makers under a 2021 state law crafted as a workaround to bypass a federal ban against targeting gun manufacturers and arms dealers for havoc wreaked by the weapons they sell.
The law allows New York municipalities to tag gun makers and sellers for creating a public nuisance. A federal judge in New York City upheld the 2021 law in a challenge to it earlier this year.
On Wednesday, the city of Rochester filed the lawsuit, naming Smith & Wesson Brands Inc., Beretta U.S.A. Corp., Bushmaster Firearms Industries Inc., Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC and Glock Inc.