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Gun manufacturers sue New York over law that lets the state and citizens sue the industry

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The National Shooting Sports Foundation and a group of gun and ammunition manufacturers filed a lawsuit against the state of New York Thursday seeking to challenge the constitutionality of a state law that regulates out-of-state gun sales.

The lawsuit led by the NSSF includes a group of 14 gun and ammo manufacturers such as Smith & Wesson, Ruger, and Hornady Manufacturing Company.

The plaintiffs hope to challenge a public nuisance law signed by former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in July. The law requires firearm manufacturing companies to place "reasonable controls" on their products to prevent criminals from obtaining firearms or ammunition. It further states that whenever a gun is used to create a public nuisance that the state of New York, members of local government, and private citizens may sue the gun manufacturer if their products are used to endanger public health. These actions may be taken regardless of whether the manufacture intended harm by misuse of the product, according to the law.

The gun industry groups argue that the state is trying to use the "threat of liability to force the industry to coerce out-of-state businesses to adopt sales practices and procedures not required by Congress or the law of the state where they operate." They also claim that placing liability on firearm manufacturers for the misuse of the products in criminal behavior violates the rights of due process. The constitutionality of the law is also subject to question, as the groups claim that the law is "constitutionally vague" and an attempt by the state of New York to regulate interstate commerce, which is a responsibility of the federal government under the Constitution, the NSSF said in a statement.

"Today’s lawsuit will end this unconstitutional attack on the businesses, large and small, vital to Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement Thursday.

The NSSF also hopes to challenge the state of New York for violating the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

The act protects gun manufacturers from legal action if their products are used in a crime.

“Once again, the gun lobby is trying to exert total control over this country and thwart common-sense efforts to protect lives. Make no mistake: We will aggressively defend this law and won’t back down against their continued attempts to endanger New Yorkers," New York Attorney General Letitia James said Thursday.

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