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Gun feature exploited in Buffalo rampage drives suit from state

Buffalo shooter Peyton Gendron easily disabled the lock on his AR-15 that was supposed to make it harder to reload. In fact, the company provides step-by-step instructions on how to do it.

MANHATTAN (CN) — Detachable magazines like the ones used by the teenage white supremacist who killed 10 people, most of them Black, at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo last year are supposed to be illegal in New York.

They allow shooters to keep firing without stopping or pausing to reload ammunition, making an attack that much more deadly.

But the gun purchased by Buffalo shooter Peyton Gendron was legal because it was outfitted with an MA Lock from a company called Mean Arms. New York’s attorney general sued that Georgia company Thursday, saying the lock is easy to remove with Mean Arms' own instructions, allowing users like Gendron to attach a high-capacity magazine.

Gendron described how he did just that in his online manifesto about the rampage, writing that it took him just minutes to remove the lock, which he called a “release,” that came installed on his AR-15. Gendron added a 30-round detachable magazine before spraying bullets into the Tops supermarket. New York bans high-capacity magazines exceeding 10 rounds of ammunition. 

Gendron was given a life sentence after pleading guilty to the mass shooting.

New York now accuses the Woodstock, Ga.-based Mean Arms of falsely advertising its compliance with New York laws. Not only does the device lack a mechanism to prevent the gun from being converted into one that’s illegal, but its packaging includes step-by-step instructions for removing the lock from a gun using a screw extractor. 

Attorney General Letitia James aims to stop Mean Arms from distributing the lock within New York state, and seeks restitution, damages and civil penalties, calling the Buffalo shooting “one of the darkest days in the history of our state and nation.” 

“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,” James said in a statement. 

Gun control advocates and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown praised James for aiming to hold the weapons parts manufacturer accountable. `

“While nothing can ease the lasting pain of May 14, 2022, we must honor the memories of those we lost by taking steps to ensure it never happens again,” Brown said in a statement.

The city of Buffalo, too, has taken to the courts seeking greater gun control measures in the wake of the Tops grocery store massacre. In December it sued a slew of gunmakers, accusing them of oversupplying weapons and deploying marketing tactics that have fueled gun violence in the city. 

"Gun manufacturer advertisements often combine the promise of an adrenaline rush with violent undertones," the 194-page lawsuit states, finding an example in a Smith & Wesson ad captioned, "Kick Brass." Other ads compare real guns to the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

James’s office has racked up a few wins in targeting gun distribution, targeting the untraceable so-called “ghost guns” built from parts. By ordering a gun in parts and building it themselves, purchasers can create untraceable firearms and get around background checks. 

In March, a federal court order blocked 10 national gun distributors from selling unfinished frames and receivers, pieces key to assembling ghost guns, into New York. That followed a North Carolina business agreeing in August 2022 to stop shipping those same parts to New Yorkers, with the company abandoning its defense in a lawsuit James’ office brought two months earlier. 

Mean Parts did not return a request for comment on Thursday afternoon.

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Categories / Business, Government, Law

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