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City of Buffalo files 'first-of-its-kind’ gun lawsuit

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Posted at 2:49 PM, Dec 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-21 14:49:00-05

BUFFALO, NY — The City of Buffalo has filed a 'first-of-its-kind' lawsuit to stop illegal gun violence on the city streets.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday morning in State Supreme Court in Buffalo against gun manufacturers, distributors, and some gun shops, saying they are fueling the violence taking lives. 

“People are fed up with losing lives to illegally possessed guns,” declared Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. “Gun violence is only getting worse in Buffalo & across the country.”

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Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announces lawsuit.

Brown is ready to firmly fight back against illegal guns on city streets, citing the many lives lost to gun violence and the ten victims who died at the hands of a gunman at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue last May in a racially motivated attack.  

“And we are going to fight with everything we have to send a message to gun manufacturers and distributors,” remarked Brown. 

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Section from lawusit.

A 197-page civil lawsuit was filed against all the major gun manufacturers, distributors, some gun shops, and ghost gun defendants, making it a "first-of-its-kind."

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Sal Badala, attorney.

“Are they tracking when guns are used in the commission of a crime — guns that are purchased in other states? You might have heard of the ‘Iron Pipeline. — purchased in other states and then are used in the commission of crimes here in Buffalo,” explained Sal Badala, attorney. “We believe by bringing these lawsuits it puts these defendants on notice and that these changes can be made.”

City Corporation Counsel Cavette Chambers says illegal gun violence is now the leading cause of death to many young people under the age of 20. 

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City Corporation Counsel Cavette Chambers.

“This is something that I feel very passionate about as a mother and as a grandmother. That I want to see my grandchild grows up. I don't want him to have to be a victim of gun violence,” described Chambers. 

“Something has to be done about the amount of guns that are flooding our streets,” replied Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.

Gramaglia welcomes the lawsuit, adding that from 2020 to 2021, there was a 1,300% increase in the seizure of ghost guns.

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Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.

“We are taking guns off the street on almost a daily basis. Too many guns are winding up in the hands of people that are using them illegally and using them to devastate our communities,” commented Gramaglia.

Carlanda Meadors, with Most Valuable Parents in Buffalo, applauds the mayor and city for taking this step.

“If you can hold a person accountable and liable for taking a gun and taking someone's life — why do we just completely absolve the manufacture and distributors?” Meadors noted.  “We don't have an issue with guns, in a sense, we have an issue with illegal guns, so let's make that very clear — this is against ghost guns, illegal guns.”

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Carlanda Meadors, with Most Valuable Parents in Buffalo.

“What's so unfortunate is that it took the gun violence and racial violence of what occurred on May 14 to prompt this move because maybe it should have been down sooner?” Buckley asked. 

“Their lives are what is now pushing this action to the Supreme Court, which will save the lives of others,” replied Meadors. 

“Certainly, 5/14 and that mass shooting fueled by racial hatred was a powerful motivator in this, but as we have said, yes, we want to remember and honor those who lost their lives on 5/14, but many people have lost their lives to gun violence in the city of Buffalo,” Brown stated.

WKBW also asked the city about the lengthy legal process a lawsuit might take.

Brown responded by saying that this is just one of “many strategies” to decrease gun violence.

“We believe that there are legal avenues on our side to put pressure on gun manufacturers and distributors as one of our strategies,” responded Brown.

The city compares it to the success of an opioid lawsuit. 

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Illegal guns.

“There were no measures at that point, and CVS quickly, as an example — then changed the opioid prescriptions to just seven-day prescription — so we believe by bringing these lawsuits it puts the defendants on notice and that these changes can be made,” explained Badala.

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Section of suit regarding Payton Gendron's gun purchase.

One of the gun shops named in the lawsuit is Vintage Firearms, located in Endicott, New York. That is where the Tops gunman Payton Gendron bought a Bushmaster XM-15 weapon.

WKBW called vintage for a response to the lawsuit, but all that could be reached was a recorded message.

“We are always interested in buying individual firearms, collections, or estate,” the message said.   

WKBW has yet to receive a response from the gun shop and some of the gun makers like Bushmaster and Smith-Wesson.  

Eileen Buckley at WKBW first reported this story.