Ilene Steur, a 49-year-old Brooklynite who was injured in a mass shooting in a Sunset Park subway station in April, has filed suit against the gun manufacturer who produced the weapon used in the grisly attack.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn on May 31 alleges that Glock, Inc. and its European parent company Glock Gesm.b.H have “contributed to creating and maintaining a public nuisance,” in New York and “have endangered the public health and safety” through the sale and marketing of firearms. A 2021 amendment to the state’s general business law allows gun manufacturers to be sued for creating a public nuisance. Glock was a plaintiff in a recently-tossed lawsuit that sought to overturn the law.
Steur, an accountant, was commuting to work on the N train on the morning of April 12 when alleged gunman Frank James, wearing a construction vest and a gas mask, deployed smoke bombs and opened fire on a crowded subway car, firing 33 shots and injuring 23 people, including Steur, who was shot in the buttocks. Ten people were shot and an additional 13 suffered from smoke inhalations and related injuries.
“The surge of gun violence in our country must be brought to an end,” said Steur’s lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, in a release. “The lawsuit filed today is an effort to hold accountable to a victim a gun manufacturer whose marketing strategies we allege results in guns being put in the hands of those who kill and main innocent victims.”
Those marketing practices, outlined in the suit, include promoting the high magazine capacity of Glock’s firearms — as well as how easily those firearms can be concealed — in advertisements and product placement in pop culture. The complaint also alleges that the manufacturer intentionally produces more guns than necessary the “legitimate market,” pushing firearms into the often illegal and unregulated resale market; fails to train dealers to avoid illegal sales; and has refused to end contracts with distributors who sell to gun dealers who are found to have sold “disproportionately high volumes” of firearms traced back to crime scenes.
Glock is one of the most recognizable gun manufacturers in the country and is particularly popular among law enforcement – including the New York City Police Department. Steur’s lawsuit leads with a 1995 quote from Gaston Glock, the company’s founder.
“It was a conscious decision to go after the law enforcement market first,” Glock told magazine Advertising Age more than 25 years ago. “In marketing terms, we assumed that by pursing the law enforcement market, we would receive the benefit of ‘after sales’ in the commercial market.”
James allegedly used a Glock pistol, which he purchased from a federally-licensed dealer in Ohio, to carry out the attack. The 62-year-old pleaded not guilty to federal charges last month and faces life in prison if convicted of the top charge of committing or attempting to commit an act of terrorism or other violence on a mass transit system.
“Gun manufacturers do not live in a bubble,” said Steur’s lawyer Mark Shirian. “They are aware that their marketing strategies are empowering purchasers with ill intent and endangering the lives of innocent people. This lawsuit seeks to hold the gun industry accountable for recklessly marketing their guns in a fashion that unreasonably creates a public nuisance.”
Steur and her team are seeking to have the court order Glock to “institute and carry out” policies that would “eradicate the effects of its past and present unlawful marketing and distribution practices,” as well as provide Steur with compensation for the money she has lost as a result of the company’s past practices and for her physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Glock, Inc. did not immediately return request for comment on Wednesday.
“We look forward to fully litigating this matter under the newly enacted New York Law,” Shirian said.