We’ve previously discussed the fishing expedition currently underway by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal against American gunmaker Smith & Wesson, in which the AG is trying to get his hands on decades’ worth of internal marketing documents. Grewal hasn’t officially accused the company of any wrongdoing; rather, he wants to peruse those documents in the hopes of finding something that he can portray as a violation of the state’s laws against fraudulent advertising.
It’s a gross abuse of power, so of course gun control advocates love the idea. The New York Times’ Aaron Ross Sorkin has even penned a love letter of sorts to Grewal, expressing his full support for the witch hunt.
The case has the potential to put a spotlight on the inner workings of gun manufacturers similar to the tobacco industry in the 1990s.
“Public opinion turned so dramatically against the tobacco companies when it became clear that executives knew the truth about their products and were lying to the public,” Mr. Skaggs said. “The gun industry fears the same thing.”
The industry has been trying to avoid a moment like this for years. Just as a court was about to rule in a lawsuit against Remington brought by the families of children killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, the company filed for bankruptcy, delaying the case. The National Rifle Association declared bankruptcy this year in an effort to end an investigation by the New York attorney general.
The NRA’s bankruptcy filing has nothing to do with either the Remington case or the New Jersey AG’s open-ended investigation into Smith & Wesson, but I love how Sorkin just casually throws that in there as if its relevant.
Sorkin also offers Adam Skaggs, the chief counsel for the gun control group Giffords, the opportunity to invent a motive for the gun companies’ reticence to turn over internal documents to politicians who want to sue them out of existence.
What exactly does Mr. Skaggs think gun companies were lying to the public about? He doesn’t actually say, but Grewal has previously discussed the possibility of going after Smith & Wesson for portraying someone carrying a firearm without disclosing in their advertisement that not every state has the same carry laws in place. Sorkin must have found that example compelling, because he leads his New York Times column with the commercial in question.
She places her gun in a red leather handbag and gets into her car. The gun, in her bag, sits in the front seat of the vehicle as she drives to work. She then brings the gun, still in the bag, to a meeting with colleagues at the office. She then takes the gun, in her bag, to lunch, where she sits at an outdoor cafe. After that, she goes to the gym — and the gun comes with her. Finally, she goes to a shooting range, where she takes the gun out and fires it at a target. “Nice pistol,” says the man next to her.
That’s the plot of a television commercial for Smith & Wesson.
However, almost everything in the ad would be illegal in at least 35 states if the woman did not have a concealed carry permit, which the ad ignores.
Someone should tell Sorkin that we’re now up to eighteen Constitutional Carry states, and that number is likely to grow before the end of the year with states like Tennessee, Indiana, and Alabama considering permitless carry legislation.
However, concealed carry licensing regimes exist in all 50 states, at least on paper. Why would anyone watching that commercial automatically assume that the woman was illegally carrying a gun instead of assuming that she must possess a concealed carry license or lives in a Constitutional Carry state? I mean, I’ve never seen a car commercial inform me that I must have a drivers license and insurance before I can take that car out on the road for a spin if I buy one. I assume that the driver behind the wheel in the commercial is licensed to drive and is doing so legally.
If this is the best justification for the investigation into Smith & Wesson that Grewal and his biggest fans can come up with (which appears to be the case), then it’s clear that Grewal’s motive isn’t truly about protecting New Jersey consumers from the gun company’s commercials. This investigation is about preventing consumers across the country from having access to Smith & Wesson’s products, because Grewal is simply interested in putting them out of business.
That may get Aaron Ross Sorkin’s motor revving, but it should alarm gun owners, both inside and outside the Garden State.
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