New laws strengthen measure used to sue gun makers, protections against HIV

Gun Rights

ALBANY – New York’s newest laws strengthen a measure to make it easier to sue gun manufacturers and sellers after mass shootings, help New Yorkers protect against HIV. and rename a subway stop for a landmark moment for gay rights in America.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed these bills Friday, which were among the first batch of bills she acted on that were passed in the 2024 legislative session.

The gun control measure makes changes to a 2021 law that was challenged in federal court, its sponsors say. The changes clarify that the measure applies to firearms sold or distributed across state lines as well as within New York State, and specifies that the “qualified product” being addressed by the law is a “firearm,” including antique firearms, ammunition and parts sold separately that could be used to assemble ammunition or firearms.

The original 2021 law sought to provide a way under business law to sue firearms manufacturers, marketers and sellers after gun-related tragedies such as school shootings. Supporters said at the time that the law would allow victims and their families to sue despite the 2005 federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in which Congress provided substantial immunity to gun manufacturers.

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The state law made gun manufacturers, sellers, distributors and marketers subject to lawsuits if they worked with “bad actors and dealers” following tragedies such as school shootings. Bad actors include gun sellers who don’t abide by all state and federal gun control laws, including background checks and waiting periods.

In response to a challenge to the law, a federal court  upheld it, but did raise issues, such as whether some of the provisions were too vague. Sponsors in the State Legislature this year moved to address those issues.

The law passed in June mostly along party lines, with Republicans opposed. The bill was sponsored by Assemb. Patricia Fahy (D-Albany) and Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn).

“It’s about the reckless distribution and sale of guns,” Fahy told Newsday Monday. “We feel it could have national ramifications.”

The National Rifle Association called the state gun control law “idiocy.”

“Common sense tells rational people that when criminals break the law, we should hold them responsible,” said Darin Goens, the NRA’s legislative director for New York. “That reasonable logic seems to be lost with some in Albany who seem intent on going after manufacturers and other law-abiding business entities while giving violent criminals a free pass. The NRA is intent on fighting this idiocy in New York and in other states by whatever means possible including through the legal system.”

Other new laws signed by Hochul would:

Increase HIV testing and timely diagnosis by removing barriers to routine HIV testing in health care visits, but still allow patients to decline the test. The law “will ensure that those receiving an HIV test will get the critical information they need regarding treatment and prevention of HIV,” said the bill’s cosponsor, Assemb. Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale). “Early diagnosis of HIV is crucial.”

Prohibit discrimination by life, accident and health insurance companies against New Yorkers who are prescribed pre-exposure prophylaxis, often known as PrEP, for HIV prevention.

Reduce delays in providing antiretroviral drugs for the treatment or prevention of HIV or AIDS by prohibiting insurers from requiring prior approval for the drugs. A companion measure prohibits insurers covering large groups, including health maintenance organizations, from imposing copayments for PrEP or PEP to prevent HIV infection.

Rename the Christopher Street-Sheridan Square subway stop in Manhattan to “Christopher Street-Stonewall National Monument Station” to honor the historic stand for gay rights.

“It’s not only a notable symbolic recognition, but will also aid visitors from all corners of the country and the world in finding their way to this significant monument honoring the struggle for LGBTQ rights,” said law’s cosponsor, Assemb. Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan).

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