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The Bill Has Passed the New York Legislature with Bipartisan Support and now Awaits New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s Signature

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following statement applauding the New York Senate for passing A6998  — legislation which would modernize New York’s outdated wrongful death law by permitting the families of victims killed by others’ misconduct to recover compensation for their emotional anguish and the other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 unavailable to grieving families — this disproportionately impacts families who are grieving the deaths of children, seniors and other low-income New Yorkers. The bill passed the Assembly last month and is now headed to New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk.

“We applaud the legislature for working together to update New York’s outdated law that unjustly undervalues the lives of the most vulnerable people in our communities killed by gun violence — children, seniors, and low-wage earners, said Deanna Drury, a volunteer with the New York chapter of Moms Demand Action. “This bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the New York Legislature and Governor Hochul now has an opportunity to sign this bill into law, bringing healing and justice to many families who have been limited in their ability to be made whole after their loved ones are killed — including the families whose loved ones were killed in the mass shooting in Buffalo.” 

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. As a result, 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 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. It will also ensure that those responsible for their wrongful deaths–including bad actors in the gun industry–face consequences that reflect the full scope of the harm they cause.

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.