NJ AG Targeting 1st, 2nd Amendments with New Nuisance-Lawsuit Team

FPC, SAF, NJ2AS Challenge New Jersey Handgun Carry Ban
NJ AG Targeting 1st, 2nd Amendments with New Nuisance-Lawsuit Team

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)- New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced Monday he has created a new statewide office specifically designed to harass the gun industry through civil nuisance lawsuits.

According to a press release issued Monday, the mission of Platkin’s Statewide Affirmative Firearms Enforcement or SAFE Office will be to bring “civil enforcement actions against firearm companies to hold them accountable for violations of the law that harm the health and safety of New Jersey residents.”

The SAFE Office’s primary tool will be a new law Gov. Phil Murphy signed earlier this month, which allows the Attorney General to file civil suits “for certain public nuisance violations arising from sale or marketing of firearms.”

“At a time when the U.S. Supreme Court is undermining states’ efforts to protect their residents from the carnage of gun violence, New Jersey’s Statewide Affirmative Firearms Enforcement Office will use the new public nuisance legislation to hold the gun industry accountable,” Platkin said in his press release.  “With the establishment of this office, we are sending a clear message to every participant in the firearms industry: if you violate our laws, you will pay.”

Platkin’s plan drew a swift response from Alan M. Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation.

“Weaponizing the New Jersey Department of Justice to file public nuisance lawsuits against firearms manufacturers and retail dealers for making and selling legal firearms is deplorable,” Gottlieb said. “The Second Amendment Foundation will challenge this blatant attack and chilling effect on the right to make, sell and purchase firearms in court. New Jersey may have been the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights but they are the last state to recognize it.”

A history of overreach

Last year, we revealed that former New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was using “undercover” detectives to entrap firearms retailers and manufacturers – especially those in other states – into selling products prohibited in New Jersey, in the hopes that the exorbitant fees and penalties he could extort from them through the state’s the state’s Consumer Fraud Act would force the owners out of business. Grewal has since resigned as attorney general to take a position with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In his Monday press release, the current Attorney General touted Grewal’s targeting of two Florida gun dealers he claimed were “advertising and selling illegal large-capacity magazines (LCMs) to New Jersey consumers online.” One dealer agreed to pay a $150,000 civil penalty. The AG has not collected on the other dealer’s civil judgement of $175,000.

Now, instead of relying on New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, Platkin said the new civil nuisance law will “provide even more robust enforcement tools, by allowing the Department to hold firearms manufacturers and retail dealers accountable for endangering the safety and health of New Jersey residents through the sale, manufacture, distribution, or marketing of lethal, but nonetheless legal, firearms.”

Advertising is protected speech

Platkin is on extremely shaky ground, constitutionally. Not only is he using civil nuisance lawsuits to infringe upon the Second Amendment, his plan to regulate marketing/advertising could prove unconstitutional, too.

The First Amendment protects advertising, which is known as “commercial speech.” However, advertising found to be deceptive may be regulated.

The Supreme Court established rules for regulating commercial speech in its 1993 decision Edenfield v. Fane.

“The commercial market place, like other spheres of our social and cultural life, provides a forum where ideas and information flourish. Some of the ideas and information are vital, some of slight worth. But the general rule is that the speaker and the audience, not the government, assess the value of the information presented. Thus, even a communication that does no more than propose a commercial transaction is entitled to the coverage of the First Amendment,” the High Court found.

Takeaways

New Jersey’s new SAFE Office, like the plethora of anti-gun laws recently passed in New York and California, is clearly retaliatory for the massive Second Amendment victory in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. Platkin admitted as much in his press release.

Now, Platkin along with Governors Hochul and Newsom will have to be taught that bluster and braggadocio are not an affirmative defense for violating both the Constitution and an opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the meantime, residents of New Jersey, California and New York will have to wait to enjoy the same legal protections of other states, whose governors care more about following the law and obeying their oath to the U. S. Constitution than they do pandering to their political base.

This story is presented by the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and wouldn’t be possible without you. Please click here to make a tax-deductible donation to support more pro-gun stories like this.


About Lee Williams

Lee Williams, who is also known as “The Gun Writer,” is the chief editor of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project. Until recently, he was also an editor for a daily newspaper in Florida. Before becoming an editor, Lee was an investigative reporter at newspapers in three states and a U.S. Territory. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a police officer. Before becoming a cop, Lee served in the Army. He’s earned more than a dozen national journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. Lee is an avid tactical shooter.

Lee Williams

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Wild Bill

The Missouri AG just told the FBI to pound sand.

Wild Bill

Details to follow!!!

gregs

cannot state this enough, qualified immunity has to be abolished to prevent abusive government agents from violating any citizen’s civil rights. they need to be help personally financially responsible and not have the taxpayers fund the defense of their dictatorial decrees. it must hurt them severely for them to stop this tyranny. they use any means necessary to exert power and control over the citizenry of the best and most free country that has ever been, and there probably won’t be another because of the inherent lust for power.

Ray

No it doesn’t. Get rid of QA and the average line officer will be subject to any number of malicious law suits. 32 yrs with a State Police/Highway Patrol with 4 yrs in Internal Affairs. I investigated a number of false accusations that if not for QA, the officer would have been busy in court for a couple of years. Without QA field level personnel will have no reason to be any thing more than a call taker/report taker. Maybe you should look at city councils, county board of supervisors, elected officials at all levels, Governor, state legislature members. For… Read more »

Lakefoot

First, what Ray said is spot on. Second, without qualified immunity the police would be of almost no use at all due to the number of court dates that they would have. if an officer violates someone’s civil rights or acts in a manner that could be considered outside of their “cloak of authority” they can be sued. As Ray stated, QA is to prevent the officer from being rendered unable to do his or her job because of the addressing the petty lawsuits that would take up all of their time. Police do have a function in our society… Read more »

TGP389

Maybe counter suits for abuse of process can stop this ridiculous practice.

Winchester1873

The useless Democrats are not concerned about safety. They want absolute power.

AZ Lefty

/Amazing what NY learned form FL and TX and attacking rights like the 1A as well as others

Finnky

A more basic change needs to be made in federal law. Governments (federal, state or local) should not be able to bring civil suits against individuals or corporations. Whole point of civil court system is to resolve disputes among equals. Government should only be able to enforce the law, and that means criminal charges for those who break the law and nothing for those who do not.
Criminal courts require a higher evidentiary standard than civil courts do. This is appropriate given inherent nature of government to abuse it’s power.

john

More of the same Murphy retained his office in the very last ballot count in 2021 he was the clear loser then came the mail in ballots. NJ like NY has record numbers felling those sanuartary states for fear from criminal attacks and taxes. The criminals are the elected who disregard the us supreme court and the US constitution. NY NJ CAL can all suffer the leadership that continues to be questioned on so many levels. Mandates closers crime politics that suit the elected not the people. San francisco cvs walmart to close all the drug stores due to looting… Read more »

swmft

there is a point where criminal activity of government will need to be stopped