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NY Sues Gun Manufacturer for Aiding Buffalo Tops Killer


New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday filed a lawsuit against a gun accessory manufacturer, MEAN LLC (Mean Arms), for aiding the illegal possession of assault weapons in New York, including the weapon used in the mass shooting in Buffalo in May 2022. New York law bans the possession of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Mean Arms manufactures, sells and distributes a magazine lock, known as the MA Lock, that is marketed as a device to lock a magazine onto a semiautomatic rifle. However, the lock can easily be removed so that detachable magazines, including high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, can be inserted into a rifle.

In January 2022, the Buffalo shooter purchased a used AR-15 that had an MA Lock installed. According to his manifesto, he was able to easily remove the MA Lock from the AR-15 within a few minutes at home and add 30-round detachable magazines that he used to murder 10 people and injure three others. The lawsuit alleges that the company 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. Through her lawsuit, Attorney General James seeks to stop Mean Arms from doing business in New York and to require the company to pay restitution, damages, and civil penalties for its illegal practices that violated state laws and caused irreparable harm.

“The racist mass shooting at the Tops grocery store in Buffalo was one of the darkest days in the history of our state and our nation,” said Attorney General James. “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. Mean Arms sells the MA Lock device knowing that it can be easily removed to make guns more dangerous, and even gives directions on how to take this action. We cannot undo the devastating harm that was done, but this lawsuit against Mean Arms is part of our ongoing effort to pursue justice for the ten innocent lives that were unjustly taken.”

Mean Arms is a Georgia-based company that makes, sells, and distributes the MA Lock, which according to Mean Arms, is a shear bolt mechanism designed to lock a detachable magazine in place on a semiautomatic rifle. The company sells the MA Lock to New York buyers directly and through third-party sellers and deceptively and falsely claims that the product makes weapons compliant with New York’s gun laws. However, the MA lock does not remove a semiautomatic rifle’s capacity to accept a detachable magazine or convert illegal assault weapons into legal 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:

Photo: New York State Attorney General’s Office

Online videos also show how gun owners can easily remove the lock. Removing the lock allows shooters to use detachable magazines, including high-capacity magazines. The use of these magazines enables a shooter to keep firing rounds without stopping or pausing to reload, increasing the deadliness of an attack.

In January 2022, the Buffalo shooter purchased a semiautomatic rifle in New York with a MA Lock installed and a 10-round magazine. The shooter easily removed the MA Lock from the weapon within a few minutes using a #2 speed out drill bit, the same tool advised in Mean Arms’ removal instructions, and a power drill readily available in his family home.

On May 14, 2022, the shooter inserted multiple 30-round detachable magazines onto his weapon, because he was able to remove the MA Lock. With a pistol grip and the high-capacity magazines, he did not have to stop to reload and when he did reload, he could do so quickly, adding to the deadliness of the attack. He killed 10 people and injured three others. One of the victims killed was Auburn resident Andre Mackniel who was buying a cake for his three-year-old son’s birthday.

Through her lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court, Attorney General James seeks to require Mean Arms to pay restitution and damages for its illegal practices that violated the statute and caused compensable injuries; stop selling, shipping, or distributing the MA Lock to any person within New York state; pay civil penalties; and disgorge all revenues wrongfully obtained. Attorney General James also seeks to require the company to issue corrective statements regarding their false and misleading public statements on the MA Lock.

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