On December 20, 2022, the City of Buffalo, New York filed a complaint against numerous manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of firearms, as well as various manufacturers and sellers of 80% receivers, or so-called “ghost guns.”  On December 21, 2022, the City of Rochester filed an almost identical complaint against the same defendants.  Both complaints raise four causes of action: (1) violation of New York General Business Law § 898a-e; (2) general common law public nuisance; (3) deceptive business practices in violation of New York General Business Law § 349-350; and (4) deceptive business practices in violation of New York General Business Law § 349. 
The allegations in the complaints are very similar to the allegations made in the municipal cases that were filed against the firearms industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which ultimately led to the enactment of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”).  Both complaints allege that the defendants are aware that firearms are diverted to the illegal market and that the defendants could take steps to reduce or prevent this.  They claim that the defendants do not do so, however, because they are intentionally serving the illegal market for firearms by manufacturing and selling more firearms than for which there is demand in the legitimate market.
With respect to the claims against the “ghost gun” defendants, plaintiffs allege that manufacturers and distributors of 80% receivers intentionally market and sell these products to be built into untraceable firearms that are designed to evade background checks and other governing laws applicable to the sale of firearms.
Plaintiffs allege violations of Section 898a-e and Sections 349-350 of New York General Business law in an attempt to satisfy the predicate exception to the PLCAA.  The predicate exception applies to an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a firearm or a component part of a firearm knowingly violated a statute applicable to the sale or marketing of firearms. Section 898a-e is the law that New York State recently enacted with the stated purpose of satisfying the predicate exception to the PLCAA. The constitutionality of Section § 898a-e is currently being challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by the NSSF and several other members of the firearms industry.
The lawsuits by Buffalo and Rochester are merely another attempt by crime ridden municipalities to deflect blame for their own failed policies, recover financial damages from the firearms industry, and impose limits on the sale of firearms to law abiding citizens that have been rejected by the legislatures.  Courts resoundingly rejected such lawsuits when they were first filed decades ago, and these cases should be similarly rejected.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor these cases and other lawsuits against the firearms industry.  If you have any questions concerning the defense of politically motivated lawsuits against the firearms industry, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.