City of Rochester takes aim at gun manufacturers

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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.

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

6 thoughts on “City of Rochester takes aim at gun manufacturers

  1. I would like to thank the mayor for taking this approach to this plague, I have long believed that these gun manufactures should be held accountable and also part of the effort to solve the gun epidemic culture.

  2. Don’t address the criminal, don’t point the finger where it belongs. It appears that Mayor Malik Evens has run out of ideas to address the criminal activity and is looking to blame. Time to start the blame game. Let me start with some annual statistics regarding the homicide rate.
    Hand guns-8,029
    Knives and cutting instruments-1,739
    Personal weapons as in hands, fist, feet-662
    Rifles-(that deadly long gun)455
    Blunt objects as in clubs and hammers-393
    Shot guns-203
    Then this: 7,334 Homicides have alcohol as a contributing factor.
    The target its the legal gun owner, make no mistake about that. If we could only get that legal gun owner to give up their gun. That inert object. Let’s put the blame where it belongs Mayor Evans … education system that cannot teach the way kids learn. There is a direct correlation between the education failure and all the misery the city of Rochester experiences. Do a survey on the education level of those involved in illegal gun activity. Then….why not attack the alcohol industry? After all they are have a hand in 7,334 homicides. If you could find a way to remove all handguns today the murder rate in all the other areas would simply go up. Are you then going to make it illegal to own a knife or a hammer? It’s the mental mindset that is the problem, period. Address the pathetic graduation rate, address the lack of CTE education, address a school board that has only seceded in firing school superintendents for decades. Most of the Rochester woes are attributed to an education system that will not educate, period. Education is thee foundational issue.

    • While I agree that suing the gun manufactures for the illegal use of their product has all the appearances of a fool’s errand, I did find your quoted homicide numbers to be interesting. Particularly the massive undercounting of firearm-related homicides. According to Pew Research and the CDC, in 2020 there were 45,222 deaths attributable to firearms. Of that number 43% were homicides. That would seem to leave a death total of 19,445. Why the undercount?

      It would also be informative if you posted a link to you’re cite for the data linking firearm homicides and alcohol.

  3. A pathetic attempt by City Hall to divert attention from the years’ long failure by the mayor’s office, the city council and the Rochester Police Department to take effective action against rising gang violence in the city. This will wind up being the judicial and financial loss equivalent of the doomed-in-advance Fast Ferry.

  4. Mayor Evans thank you so much for doing this for taking a different approach and working outside the box
    Dr Gayle Harrison

    • A PhD has digested many books and achieved a considerable level of intellect. But ask a medical Dr.
      Let me add to the alcohol statistic of 7,334 homicides. Let me add the other alcohol statistics related to the misery and….. dollars and cents.
      Alcohol use in the USA
      85% of our population 18 years and older has participated in the use of alcohol.
      25.8% have participated in binge drinking
      14.5 million people suffer from alcohol use disorder
      95,000 alcohol related deaths in our nation annually
      Cost associated with alcohol misuse (like the misuse of a gun) 249,000,000,000.00
      Criminal justice cost over $25,000,000,000.00
      Last but not least 85,688 deaths related to liver disease alone!
      Now, when you tip that glass to ring in the new year make sure its within reason.
      Working outside the box? If we would only work within the box and address the education SYSYTEM, we could solve most of our woes. For some reason the RCSD cannot get the job done. They doom thousands to the streets where alcohol and guns rule the streets. If only our highly educated could teach the way kids learn….we would solve a host of problems. That inert gun being misused is not the blame, although convenient.

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