Subway shooting survivor pursues legal case claiming manufacturer’s marketing campaign creates a ‘public nuisance.’
Thirty people were injured during a April 12 subway shooting in New York. Ilene Steur, 49, was one of them. She was shot by a Glock firearm in her buttocks and, as a result, suffered a break in her sacrum (a flat, triangular bone at the base of the spine). Now, two months after the event, Steur is still receiving mental health treatment to process the trauma and she has since filed a federal lawsuit in Brooklyn, suing the manufacturer of the gun fired during the attack.
Steur’s suit alleges that Glock, headquartered in Austria and one of the U.S.’s most well-known gunmakers, “improperly market[ed] its firearms with an emphasis on their high capacity, their easy concealment, and other features that appeal to purchasers with criminal intent.” Furthermore, she claims it failed to “adopt the most basic policies and practices to stop firearms from falling into the wrong hands.” In submitting the filing, Steur hopes to draw attention to the careless marketing practices of gunmakers as a whole, saying they pose a ‘public nuisance’.
Mark D. Shirian, one of her attorneys, said, “Gun manufacturers do not live in a bubble. They are aware that their marketing strategies are empowering purchasers with ill intent and endangering the lives of innocent people. This lawsuit seeks to hold the gun industry accountable.”
In New York, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul is seeking to strengthen the state’s already relatively strict gun control laws by increasing the minimum age to purchase AR-15-style firearms from 18 to 21. Lawmakers passed a separate law in 2021 allowing civil suits against manufacturers and dealers found to be employing improper marketing practices. This law has been vigorously challenged by Glock, Smith & Wesson and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, among others, who’ve argued in a December lawsuit that it was “unconstitutional and too vague.”
The gun industry’s suit was dismissed late last month with a federal judge in Albany who ruled that “a state statute establishing liability for improper sale or marketing of firearms is not an obstacle to any congressional objective” of the 2005 law. Steur’s suit is now arguing that Glock has “endangered public safety by recklessly marketing guns through advertisements and placement in movies and other entertainment.”
Glock’s products began circulating across the nation in the 1980s and were adopted as a weapon of choice by police departments due to their ease of use. Steur argues that the gunmaker, at that time, “began to intentionally oversaturate the market, oversupplying law enforcement.” It then “encouraged officers to trade-in older models for newer one and resold the old ones at a higher price through pawn shops and other small dealers.”
Steur has tried to work from home “because it keeps her mind off her injuries,” her attorneys said, but she is unable to leave her house because she has to have a colostomy bag, and still needs to have colon surgery to repair the damage to her body.
Sanford Rubenstein, one of Steur’s attorneys, argued, “At a time when mass shootings are continuing and gun violence remains elevated from pre-pandemic levels in many cities, those who manufacture and distribute guns have a moral responsibility to help fix the problem.”
Steur added, “There has to be better control of who gets their hands on these guns.”