Brooklyn Subway Mass Shooting Victim Sues Glock

Ilene Steur, one of the 10 people shot when a gunman opened fire on a Brooklyn subway on April 12, has sued gun manufacturer Glock over marketing and distribution practices that allegedly allowed the attack to take place. The complaint names both Glock, Inc. and its Austrian parent company, Glock Ges.m.b.H., as defendants.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York, asserts that the defendants had a hand in creating and maintaining a public nuisance and have endangered public health and safety by (1) marketing their firearms in a way that appeals to those with criminal intent, (2) purposely producing more firearms than the legitimate market can bear, thereby causing secondary market sales, (3) not training dealers on illegal transactions, and (4) not ending contracts with distributors who sold to dealers with “disproportionally high volumes of guns traced to crime scenes.”

Citing a 2021 New York law allowing anyone responsible for the illegal or unreasonable sale, manufacture, distribution, importing, or marketing of firearms to be held liable for public nuisance, the complaint alleges that the defendants have created such a public nuisance. The law allows for a private right of action for anyone injured by an industry member’s violation.

The complaint asserts that defendants first target law enforcement in their sales to gain credibility with the civilian market and increase the firearms’ value. Then, the defendants and its distributors allegedly encourage police departments to upgrade their firearms sooner than necessary or originally planned and sell the old firearms in the civilian market, knowing they will reach purchasers with criminal intent.

According to the complaint, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has previously notified the defendants of the distributors who consistently supply firearms used in crimes. The complaint alleges that the defendants do not take reasonable precautions to use commonly employed distribution techniques or to train distributors and dealers to recognize straw buyers or avoid distribution to those with criminal intent.

The complaint begins with a quote attributed to the founder and president of Glock, Gaston Glock: “It was a conscious decision to go after the law enforcement market first. In marketing terms, we assumed that by pursuing the law enforcement market, we would receive the benefit of ‘after sales’ in the commercial market.”

A New York federal judge upheld the law that allows injured individuals to sue gun industry members in May, stating that the law is not preempted by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), does not violate the dormant Commerce Clause, and is not void for vagueness.

Additional Reading

Steur v. Glock Complaint (May 31, 2022)

A victim of the Brooklyn subway shooting is suing the gun maker Glock, NPR (June 1, 2022)

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