New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against a gun accessory manufacturer on Thursday, alleging that the business facilitated the illegal possession of weapons in the state.
The lawsuit (pdf) has been filed against Georgia-based Mean Arms for allegedly aiding in the illegal possession of assault weapons in New York, including the weapon used in the Buffalo mass shooting in May last year, according to a May 11 press release. The shooting incident in Buffalo ended up killing 10 people and injuring three.
The shooter is said to have purchased a used semiautomatic AR-15 rifle a few months before the incident in January 2022. The AR-15 had a magazine lock (MA lock) installed, which was manufactured by Mean Arms.
If the lock is removed, then detachable magazines, including high-capacity magazines holding over 10 rounds of ammunition, can be inserted into a rifle. In New York, the possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines holding over 10 rounds of ammunition is banned.
According to the shooter’s manifesto, he removed the MA lock from the AR-15 and added 30-round detachable magazines.
The lawsuit alleges Mean Arms deceptively and falsely advertised that installing an MA lock on a weapon makes the weapon legal in New York. However, the attorney general points out that an MA lock does not remove the ability of a semiautomatic rifle to accept a detachable magazine.
Moreover, Mean Arms is said to have provided step-by-step instructions on the back of its product packaging on how to easily remove the lock. The Buffalo shooter reportedly removed the MA lock from his weapon in a few minutes by using the same tool mentioned in the Mean Arms’ removal instructions.
The lawsuit is seeking to make Mean Arms pay restitution, damages, and civil penalties for alleged illegal practices as well as block it from doing business in New York.
“The racist mass shooting at the Tops grocery store in Buffalo was one of the darkest days in the history of our state and our nation,” said James. “We lost 10 innocent lives because a hate-fueled individual was able to make an AR-15 even deadlier through a simple change at home.
“Mean Arms sells the MA Lock device knowing that it can be easily removed to make guns more dangerous and even gives directions on how to take this action. We cannot undo the devastating harm that was done, but this lawsuit against Mean Arms is part of our ongoing effort to pursue justice for the ten innocent lives that were unjustly taken.”
The Epoch Times has reached out to Mean Arms for comment.
Protecting Gun Rights
The Mean Arms lawsuit is the latest in a series of steps New York has taken related to guns. On April 29, New York hosted its first-ever statewide community gun buyback program, which saw over 3,000 guns removed in a single day. Since taking office, James has removed more than 7,000 guns.
The state has pushed to make gun laws more stringent. However, courts have struck down these moves. In June last year, the Supreme Court voted 6–3 to strike down New York’s law against concealed gun carry, thus recognizing for the first time the constitutional right to carry firearms in public for self-defense purposes.
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), called the Supreme Court judgment a “watershed win for good men and women all across America.”
In late December 2022, State Supreme Court Judge Thomas Moran ruled that a New York red flag law—which allowed for confiscating guns from people who have not committed a crime—is unconstitutional.
The Extreme Risk Protection Order law allowed individuals, including police officers, to ask the court to seize firearms from people they consider to pose a threat to themselves or others. Since the law came into effect in 2019, over 1,900 removal orders have been issued.
Moran ruled that the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment as it does not “sufficiently protect a citizen’s rights.”