Attorney Says Lawsuit Over New Jersey Gun Shop Location Driven by 'Hateful Prejudice'

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File

The fight over a Somerville, New Jersey gun store is still a couple of weeks away from its first day in court, but supporters and opponents of High Caliber Ordnance are still duking it out in the court of public opinion ahead of a hearing that will determine whether the lawsuit challenging its location will continue. 


Anti-gun activists turned up at the most recent meeting of the Somerville Planning Board to demand a change to the town's zoning laws that would prohibit the store (and any other potential gun shops) from opening their doors for business, but were stymied by town officials who told them that, thanks to one resident's lawsuit, they can no longer discuss any changes until the court fight is over

Residents came to the Feb. 14 Planning Board meeting to ask for the zoning change, but Board Chairman Bernard Navatto said that legal counsel had advised the Board not to discuss the issue until the litigation is settled.

"Nothing we do now is going to change anything," Navatto said.

Navatto said the shop did not have to appear before the Planning Board because it was a retail use permitted in the zone.

Mayor Brian Gallagher, who also sits on the Planning Board, encouraged the residents to continue attending public meetings.

"We want the public here," he said.

The mayor noted there are also a liquor store and smoke shop in the vicinity of Van Derveer School.

"I look at some of these things and I shake my head," he said, adding "I ask myself where was the public outcry when these things were coming in?"

Apparently the anti's are okay with their kids strolling by a store that sells booze, not to mention the marijuana dispensary that's set to open not far away. The gun store is the only business that's drawn any kind of objection, legally or otherwise, which is one reason why High Caliber Ordnance's attorney describes the lawsuit filed to prevent the shop from opening in its current location an act of anti-2A bigotry. 


Daniel Schmutter, attorney for High Caliber Ordnance, has asked the judge to dismiss the suit, arguing in a brief that the court action was taken "purely to harass a lawful, constitutionally protected business, in the hope of driving them into bankruptcy or otherwise making them go away because of simple hateful prejudice."

The brief also calls the "frivolous" lawsuit an "abusive misuse of the courts." 


In his brief to the judge, Schmutter said High Caliber Ordnance, which is awaiting final Superior Court approval to open, has been targeted because the firearms business "often draws strong political viewpoint and, especially in New Jersey, is the subject of a great deal of unfair prejudice."

I'm glad to see that the shop's owner has brought in a high-caliber attorney like Schmutter to defend him from this abuse in court, and hopefully the judge will quickly rule in the gun store owner's favor after the March 7th hearing to determine the future of the lawsuit. Schmutter's absolutely right about the prejudice exhibited by some Somerville residents to the gun store, as evidenced by some of the comments to a petition complaining about the store's existence. 

  • a gun store in this small town will only bring unwanted and dangerous people it's disgusting!!!
  • It's not a good look for Somerville
  • Assault rifles and other such weaponry have no place near our schools, much less New Jersey. Are we asking for a disaster?? This is madness.
  • Guns within walking distance to a school is an incredibly dangerous decision. Protect our children and our teachers!

Oh, so only "unwanted and dangerous" people exercise their Second Amendment rights? I don't know about you, but that sounds awfully bigoted to me. 

Every person who purchases a firearm at High Caliber Ordnance will have to comply with all applicable state and federal law, which in New Jersey means a background check before they even walk into the business; either for a Firearms ID card or a pistol purchase permit.  And since every pistol purchase permit is good for a single purchase, gun control groups like Giffords maintain that creates a de facto 7 day waiting period on all handgun sales. The state has also banned the so-called assault weapons that one resident complained about, which makes me believe that most of those who are objecting to High Caliber Ordance have no clue what New Jerseys' gun laws look like. Their issue is with any firearm retailer opening for business in their town, and no matter where the shop is located they'd find a reason to complain about the store's existence. 

The judge overseeing this complaint should not only dismiss this lawsuit, but make the anti-gun activist who filed it fork over attorneys' fees to the store owner, which is allowed under New Jersey law when litigation is filed by someone in "bad faith, solely for the purpose of harassment, delay or malicious injury; or" by a party who "should have known, that the complaint, counterclaim, cross-claim or defense was without any reasonable basis in law or equity and could not be supported by a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law." 


The gun store owner has already been forced to delay the opening of his business and hire an attorney thanks to this baseless lawsuit, and a judgment finding that the filing of the lawsuit was frivolous would not only provide them with some monetary relief for their troubles but would hopefully have a chilling effect on other prohibitionists who might try a similar tactic in their own communities in the future. Simply dismissing the case would be a good first step, but anti-gun activists need to know that their abuse of the courts will come at a high price in order to stop these junk lawsuits going forward. 

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