FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 11, 2008
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENTS WITH FIVE ADDITIONAL GUN DEALERS NAMED IN NEW YORK CITY LAWSUITS
Judge Has Set May 27 and September 2 Trial Dates for Remaining Dealers in First and Second Lawsuits, Respectively
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced that five additional gun dealers named in the New York City lawsuits over illegal gun sales have agreed to settlements with the City, bringing the total number of settlements to twenty. The Gun Store, Inc. of Doraville, Georgia; Gallery Distributing of Mount Penn, Pennsylvania; Toccoa Pawn & Variety of Toccoa, Georgia; Woody's Pawnshop of Orangeburg, South Carolina; and Peddler's Post of Washington Court House, Ohio have all agreed to settlements providing for a court-appointed monitor to track firearms sales activities. They have each also agreed to submit to close monitoring of their records and inventory, which may include videotaping of their sales activities and continued undercover surveillance. The court-appointed monitor will ensure that each dealer is in full compliance with all laws regulating the sales and purchase of firearms. The agreements reached with these five dealers closely mirror those reached with other dealers named in the lawsuit. Of the five dealers whose settlements were announced today, one (Toccoa Pawn & Variety) was named in the second lawsuit filed on December 7, 2006; the other four were named in the first lawsuit filed on May 15, 2006.
"We prefer negotiating settlement agreements to trying cases against dealers, but we will do both to stop guns from getting into the hands of criminals," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Even as we've increased enforcement and passed tough new gun laws here at home, we have pursued this innovative litigation against out-of-state gun dealers to stem the flow of illegal guns into our City."
"These settlements are further proof of the effectiveness of the Administration's litigation strategy intended to stop the flow of illegal guns into New York City," said Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo. "The settlements also show the very real improvements to life in the City that can be achieved by team efforts between City lawyers and private firms in the City volunteering their time - in this case, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, for whose assistance on these cases we continue to be grateful."
As part of the agreement, a monitor will be appointed by the court and paid for by the City. The monitor will have broad powers, including unlimited review of firearms-related records, which include trace requests and multiple handgun sale reports, as well as the ability to conduct unrestricted inspections of all firearm inventories. Employees will receive enhanced training to ensure these dealers conduct legal firearm sales and identify and refuse to sell to straw purchasers.
"There is already evidence that our innovative litigation is helping make New Yorkers safer," said John Feinblatt, the Mayor's Criminal Justice Coordinator. "The federal government recently released trace data showing that last year the number of crime guns recovered in New York City from the five states where the City sued gun dealers dropped by 16%. In some of these states, the improvement is even more dramatic. The number of crime guns from Ohio, for example, dropped by 28%; the number from South Carolina by 26%; and the number from Georgia by 21%. These results prove that our strategy is working."
The lawsuit filed on May 15, 2006 began with fifteen dealers, of which eleven have now entered into settlement agreements. One dealer, Mickalis Pawn Shop, LLC, defaulted after its owner, Larry Mickalis, was indicted on federal charges arising out of the same type of conduct on which the City's lawsuit was based. Another dealer sued in the second lawsuit, Gwinnett Pawn Shop of Norcross, Georgia, has defaulted as well. Each agreement establishes a penalty structure for non-compliance - including straw sales and other violations of federal, state or local firearms laws. Fines for each violation vary among the settlements, ranging up to $10,000 for a first violation; $15,000 for a second violation; and $20,000 for a third violation. The case against two dealers, Webb's Sporting Goods of Madison Heights, Virginia and Old Dominion Guns & Tackle of Danville, Virginia was dismissed as a result of additional information obtained about their sales practices during the pre-trial discovery process. A trial for the remaining dealer in the first lawsuit, Adventure Outdoors of Smyrna, Georgia, is scheduled to begin on May 27 in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn. The trial for the remaining two dealers in the second lawsuit, Bob Moates Sport Shop of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trader World of North Charleston, South Carolina, is scheduled to begin on September 2.
The agreements announced today will expire after three consecutive years without a reported violation. At least every three months, the special master will certify whether the dealers have met their obligations. If the dealers go two years and then relapse, the three-year clock will be re-set.
Stu Loeser/Jason Post (212) 788-2958