Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said that the city filed the lawsuit to combat rising rates of firearm violence.
The city of Buffalo has filed a lawsuit against firearm manufacturers, alleging that they have fueled violence by making or providing “thousands of firearms recovered in crimes committed in the City of Buffalo and New York State.”
According to CNN, the lawsuit was filed in a New York Supreme Court in Erie County.
In its complaint, attorneys for the Western New York city allege that companies including Smith & Wesson, Berretta, Remington, and Glock have contributed to a condition “that endangers the safety and health of the public.”
The lawsuit also names as defendants “ghost gun companies,” or entities that provide blueprints to manufacture firearm components using 3-D printers.
Speaking to the media, Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said that firearm violence has caused immense suffering in and around the city.
“Members of our community have suffered too much and for too long from gun violence,” Brown said in a statement on Tuesday. “We must do everything we can to decrease gun violence. Enabling the possession of illegal guns destroys lives and deeply affects our neighborhoods, especially in Black and Brown communities.”
The lawsuit, notes CNN, was filed about 10 months after a “racially motivated” mass shooting at Tops Friendly Market, located in a predominately Black neighborhood.
ABC News reports that gun violence has “surged” in Buffalo since 2020, with an estimated 355 people killed or injured in shootings in the past two years.
“As of March, 2021, the number of people shot in Buffalo over the first two months of the year jumped 140% compared to the same period [in 2020],” Buffalo said in a statement accompanying the lawsuit.
However, city officials specified that they are not seeking to restrict or limit legal gun ownership.
“The city of Buffalo is not going to let these gun industry members continue to flood our City with illegally possessed guns,” said Buffalo Corporation Counsel member Cavette A. Chambers.
Chambers said that the lawsuit is filed under New York’s recently-enacted “public nuisance” laws that allows local entitles to take action against companies that they believe pose a risk to public safety.
In his statement, Mayor Brown said that gun companies’ negligent conduct and policies have directly contributed to rising rates of violent crime.
“The conduct of certain gun manufacturers has unreasonably interfered with the public’s right to use open space free from fear,” the mayor said.
The lawsuit contends that the defendant companies have “acknowledged that they have no system process in place to gather safety data related to their products, and they were unable to produce any internal analyses of the dangers caused by sellers of their military-style weapons to civilians.”