Five months before he murdered 10 Black people at a grocery store in Buffalo, Peyton Gendron wrote in his online diary that he had found a gun, one fixed with a locking device sold by a Georgia company.
The device, called an MA lock, ostensibly should have hindered Mr. Gendron, a white supremacist intent on killing as many Black people as possible. Mean Arms, a Georgia-based company, markets the device as locking a magazine — the part that holds ammunition — onto a firearm.
The parts are intended to prevent gunmen from using detachable magazines, which are illegal in New York because they allow quick reloading. The company says that its device makes a gun compliant with New York law.
But according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday by the New York attorney general, Mean Arms knowingly sells a lock that can easily be removed and even provides step-by-step instructions for removing it on the back of its product packaging. Indeed, Mr. Gendron did not refer in his diary to the device as a lock — instead, he called it a fixed magazine “release.”
Indeed, according to photos that Mr. Gendron posted to his diary in January 2022, he was able to remove the lock quickly, with little effort. In the shooting, on May 14 of that year, he used 30-round detachable magazines. Using the higher-capacity magazines allowed him to avoid reloading his gun and may have helped Mr. Gendron kill more people. Along with the 10 he murdered, three others were injured in his attack.
“We lost 10 innocent lives because a hate-fueled individual was able to make an AR-15 even deadlier through a simple change at home,” the attorney general, Letitia James, said in a statement. She added that Mean Arms sold the locking device “knowing that it can be easily removed to make guns more dangerous.”
A lawyer for Mean Arms, based in Woodstock, Ga., did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On its website, the company says that the lock was designed as “a complete fixed magazine solution” and that it was “developed for states with intrusive laws requiring fixed magazines.”
“Once installed, it cannot be removed with a tool, which satisfies CA and NY state law,” the website says. Mr. Gendron’s diary, and Mean Arms’s product packaging, appears to show the opposite.
Ms. James’s lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, seeks to bar Mean Arms from selling its device within New York State or from doing any business at all within New York and to require the company to pay restitution and damages for breaking the law. The suit says that the product has been sold in New York since 2017.
Mr. Gendron livestreamed the attack and chose the supermarket because it had a largely Black clientele. The 10 people he killed ranged in age from 32 to 86. In February, Mr. Gendron was sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole.