NEW YORK — Today, the New York chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statement applauding the New York Assembly for passing A6998 — legislation which would modernize New York’s outdated wrongful death law by permitting the families of victims killed by others’ misconduct to recover compensation for their emotional anguish and the other non-economic losses they suffer. New York is currently one of a small handful of states where non-economic damages are presently unavailable to grieving families — this disproportionately impacts families who are grieving the deaths of children, seniors and other low-income New Yorkers.
“Any survivor of gun violence knows, the loss of a loved one’s income is only one part of the devastating impact of their lives being cut short by gun violence. New York’s outdated law wrongly undervalues the lives of victims who were low-wage earners, children and seniors and prevents their families from being able to both hold those responsible for their deaths accountable and recover financial damages that are commensurate to all they’ve lost, said Retha Rogers, a volunteer with the New York Chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We applaud the Assembly for passing legislation that will remove the unjust limits on survivors’ access to fair compensation for their losses and will hold bad actors in the gun industry accountable for their role in our gun violence crisis.”
Under current New York law, when victims’ families sue those responsible for their loved ones’ deaths, only the victim’s economic income at the time of their death may be considered when courts award damages. When a child or a grandparent is shot and killed, the damages awarded under current law are in no way commensurate with the pain and suffering experienced by those who loved them. It’s unfair to reduce the value of the lives of gun violence victims whose lives are cut short as a result of the negligent or wrongful acts of others to the paychecks they contribute to a family budget. By allowing for a fairer assessment of grieving families’ losses, this bill will also help address socio-economic inequities, since women and people of color are often not paid proportionally and Black and brown communities are often disproportionately impacted by gun violence.
In an average year in New York, 939 people die by guns and 1,991 people are wounded. Gun violence costs New York $11.4 billion each year, of which $301.2 million is paid by taxpayers. More information on gun violence in New York is available here.