New York sues company that sold accessory for Buffalo mass shooter's gun

People leave messages in chalk at a memorial at the scene of a weekend shooting at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) - New York on Thursday sued the company that sold the locking device included with the gun used by a white supremacist to kill 10 Black people at a Buffalo grocery store last year, saying it allowed the shooter to turn the rifle into an illegal assault weapon.

In a complaint filed in state court in Manhattan, Democratic Attorney General Letitia James said Georgia-based Mean Arms LLC falsely claimed that its device can make a rifle comply with New York's ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, by locking a 10-round magazine in place so that it cannot be replaced by a larger one.

In fact, the lawsuit said, the lock can easily be removed, and Mean Arms includes instructions for doing so on its packaging. The Buffalo shooter, Payton Gendron, wrote in a manifesto that he removed the Mean Arms lock from an AR-15 he purchased in a few minutes and replaced the magazine with one holding 30 rounds.

New York is accusing Mean Arms of deceptive business practices and aiding and abetting the possession of illegal assault weapons. It is seeking an order barring the company from selling its lock in New York and unspecified money damages.

James said the lawsuit was "part of our ongoing effort to pursue justice for the 10 innocent lives that were unjustly taken."

Mean Arms did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit is the latest effort by Democratic state officials to go after the gun industry in court since the U.S. Supreme Court dramatically expanded gun rights nationwide last year.

Gendron, who had streamed live video of the attack on social media after posting a racist screed online, was sentenced to life without parole in February after pleading guilty to murder and terrorism charges in state court. He still faces federal charges carrying a potential death sentence.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Daniel Wallis)