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Brooklyn subway shooting victim sues gun maker Glock

Ilene Steur was about halfway through her morning commute to her real estate job when smoke suddenly began to fill her subway car, a man seated next to it began firing shots, and she was hit by a bullet in the buttocks.

She was seriously injured in the April 12 attack, one of 30 people injured in the N train shooting that rocked New York City and was the worst crime in the city’s transit system. for decades.

On Tuesday, Ms. Steur, 49, filed a federal lawsuit in Brooklyn, arguing that the maker of the firearm used in the attack should be held responsible for the chaos that unfolded in the Sunset Park neighborhood.

The lawsuit accuses Glock, one of the nation’s largest firearms manufacturers, of improperly marketing its firearms by emphasizing their large capacity, easy concealment and other features that “attract buyers with criminal intent”. The company, which is headquartered in Austria, also failed to “adopt the most basic policies and practices” to keep firearms from falling into the wrong hands, according to the lawsuit.

“Gun manufacturers don’t live in a bubble,” said Mark D. Shirian, one of Ms Steur’s lawyers. “They are aware that their marketing strategies empower malicious buyers and endanger the lives of innocent people. This lawsuit aims to hold the firearms industry accountable.

The arms maker did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the case on Tuesday. But Glock executives have previously defended the company’s sales policies.

The lawsuit comes as the gun industry faces intense scrutiny from politicians and the public after high-profile mass shootings this month in Buffalo, where 10 people were killed in a supermarket, and in Uvalde, Texas, the site of the deadliest school massacre since the Sandy Hook murders in 2012.

In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul has sought to strengthen the state’s relatively strict gun laws, calling on lawmakers to raise the minimum age to purchase AR-15-type weapons from 18 to 21. -a law last year allowing civil suits against gun manufacturers and dealers for improper marketing or sales.

Tuesday’s filing was filed under those provisions, which classified poor business practices as a nuisance threatening public safety. The legal argument seeks to circumvent a 2005 federal measure that provides gun companies with broad immunity from lawsuits by victims and their loved ones.

New York’s legislation was vigorously opposed by the firearms industry. Companies and organizations such as Glock, Smith & Wesson and the National Shooting Sports Foundation argued in a lawsuit in December that the new law was unconstitutional and too vague.

A federal district judge in Albany dismissed their case last week, writing that “State law establishing liability for the improper sale or marketing of firearms is no obstacle to the goal of Congress” of the 2005 law.

Ms. Steur’s lawsuit, which was first reported by the New York Daily News, alleges that Glock endangered public safety by recklessly marketing firearms through advertisements and placements in movies and other entertainment.

Frank R. James, the man accused of carrying out a terrorist attack on a public transportation system, had used a 9-millimeter pistol called a Glock 17 that he had legally purchased in Columbus, Ohio, in 2011, said federal prosecutors. The weapon jammed after firing 33 shots and no one died.

Glock firearms began to spread in the United States in the late 1980s and were quickly adopted as the weapon of choice by police departments for their ease of use. But lawyers for Ms Steur said the company began to intentionally oversaturate the market, oversupplying law enforcement. The manufacturer then encouraged police to trade in newer guns and resell old ones at a higher price through pawnbrokers and other small dealers.

They said that although federal authorities provided the manufacturer with the names of distributors who sold firearms that were used in crimes, the company “ignored the information” and maintained the same approach to marketing. and distribution.

The lawsuit resembles another that relatives of Sandy Hook shooting victims have filed against Remington, which made the AR-15-style Bushmaster rifle used in that massacre. They argued that the company’s marketing of the gun was intended to appeal to troubled young men, in violation of Connecticut consumer law. That case was settled for $73 million in February, the largest and largest settlement since the Legal Shield was enacted in 2005.

One of Ms Steur’s lawyers, Sanford Rubenstein, said Tuesday that at a time when mass shootings continue and gun violence remains high compared to pre-pandemic levels in many cities, “those who manufacture and distribute firearms have a moral responsibility” to help solve the problem. .

Mr. James, 62, pleaded not guilty in federal court this month. Mr James, who was held without bail at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, could face life in prison if convicted on the terrorism count. He also faces a separate charge of using a firearm, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years.

Ms Steur was shot in the buttocks in the attack, suffering a fractured sacrum, a flat, triangular bone at the base of the spine. Seven weeks later, her lawyers said she continued to receive mental health assistance. She told the Daily News she was worried about going back to the public transit system and worried about staying in New York.

His physical recovery will also be a long process. She has tried working from home “because it saves her thinking about her injuries”, her lawyers said, but is largely unable to leave her house. She also needs a colostomy bag and has yet to undergo colon surgery.

In a statement, Ms Steur said the attack “changed my life forever – physically, mentally and emotionally”.

She added: “There needs to be better control over who gets their hands on these guns.”

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