Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued firearm accessory manufacturer Mean Arms. The justification for the lawsuit is hard to understand. However, it makes perfect sense if the goal is to harass small businesses by making them spend money on legal defense fees.
NY vs. Mean Arms—
This lawsuit comes almost exactly one year after a deranged man used a rifle to kill 10 people in a Buffalo, NY Tops store. The firearm used in that horrific shooting was a New York compliant AR-15. One attribute a NY legal AR-15 must have is a fixed magazine; and, of course, any magazine that holds over 10 rounds is a no-no in the Empire State.
A standard AR-15 doesn't have fixed magazines, so the rifle must be modified to be legal in NY. The Buffalo killer's purchased his rifle, which was already equipped with such a magazine lock device. A company called Mean Arms produced the specific device used in the killer's rifle. The device called the MA Lock permanently fixes the magazine in place.
Well, how permanent seems to be the question. See, the killer used a drill to drill out the MA Lock device, allowing the killer to use “high capacity” magazines over 10 rounds. Now here is where the NY AG's reasoning becomes difficult to follow.
The Attorney General claims that Mean Arms
…deceptively and falsely advertises that installing an MA Lock on a weapon makes it legal in New York, thereby aiding and abetting the illegal possession of assault weapons in New York.
In fact, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that the company provides step-by-step instructions on the back of its product packaging on how to easily remove the lock. The back of the packaging of the MA Lock states:
Make sure the firearm chamber is CLEAR, UNLOADED and POINTED IN A SAFE DIRECTION!
Use any brand of screw extractor from your local hardware store (some brands may work better than others. We prefer a #2 Speed out).
To remove the threaded portion of the shear nut left in the MA LOCK sleeve, place the screw extractor into the center of the threaded portion of the shear nut and remove counterclockwise (Please refer to the screw extractor’s instructions for best use).
Now you may remove the MA LOCK SLEEVE.
Some Thought on The Case—
A couple of thoughts come to mind when I try to understand the reasoning of the NY AG. First, the killer shows that once again, criminals don't obey the law. It's illegal in NY to possess magazine with more than a 10 round capacity, this didn't stop the killer. It's illegal in NY to possess an AR-15 that doesn't have a fixed magazine. This didn't stop the killer from modifying his rifle. It's also illegal in NY to kill innocent people. Another law which didn't seem to dissuade the maniac.
Second, if someone needs to use a drill to remove the MA Lock, and in doing so, destroy the device permanently, how is the company “aiding the illegal possession of assault weapons in New York”? I presume the reasoning is that the company tells the consumer how to remove the device.
But it's important to note that next to the removal instructions are steps on how to install the device. Because once the customer installs the device, it is essentially a permanent modification; it also makes sense to explain how to remove it should the person move to a state that doesn't have such ridiculous modification requirements. There are absolutely legal reason one might want to remove the MA LOCK. The fact the company provides instructions on how to do it doesn't mean the device doesn't work as designed, nor that they are advocating removing it to circumvent any state's law.
In a fair justice system, an AG would never bring a case like this against a company. Absent some public statements making claims to the contrary, I think the AG will have a hard time proving that Mean Arms' purpose for providing removal instructions was to conspire with NY residents and help them violate the law. Especially when they are selling a product that designed to modify a rifle to comply with the law. However, in corrupt NY, anything is possible.
Let's see where this lawsuit goes. The case is PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, by LETITIA JAMES, Attorney General of New York, V MEAN LLC d/b/a Mean Arms.