There’s been several victories in the Garden State lately in the courts. A recent court challenge between the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the State of New Jersey found for the plaintiffs in a preliminary injunction. In the case, the NSSF was challenging New Jersey’s work-around of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. On March 3, 2023, United States District Court Judge Zahid N. Quraishi, denied the state’s request for a stay on the previous opinion.
National Shooting Sports Foundation v. Platkin directly goes after New Jersey’s law targeting the firearm industry. From the preliminary injunction earlier this year concerning the New Jersey law:
On June 5, 2022, the Governor of New Jersey signed A1765 into law. (Id., ¶ 27.) A1765 is titled “Act concerning public safety and supplementing Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.” (Id.) Al 765 creates a cause of action for public nuisance applying to gun industry members “engaged in the sale, manufacturing, distribution, importing, or marketing of a gun-related product, and any officer, agent, employee, or other person authorized to act on behalf of that person or who acts in active concert or participation with one or more such persons.” (Id. ¶ 29.) A1765 also authorizes liability for any gun industry member who fails to “establish, implement, and enforce reasonable controls regarding its manufacture, sale, distribution, importing, and marketing of gun related products.” (Id., ¶31.)
The judge found that the state’s law would not be able to survive full scrutiny, thus granting the injunction:
“As a practical matter, if a plaintiff demonstrates both likelihood of success on the merits and irreparable injury, it almost always will be the case that the public interest will favor the plaintiff.” American Tel. & Telegraph Co. v Winback & Conserve Program, Inc., 42 F.3d 1421, 1427 n.8 (3d Cir. 1994).
March 3rd’s opinion declined the state’s November 23, 2022 request to stay the opinion pending an appeal. As with the preliminary injunction, the judge is of the opinion that the state will not be victorious on appeal, thus their request was denied. The six page opinion by Quraishi quashes New Jersey’s hopes of further eroding the Second Amendment via charging those engaged in business in the firearms world with what can be considered non-existent crimes/mopery, for the foreseeable future.
Defendant argues that a stay is warranted because enjoining Section 58-35 will interfere with a critical public safety tool adopted by the New Jersey legislature. (Moving Br. at 23.) Defendant’s position is the same one he previously presented, however on the Motion he provides four illustrative, hypothetical examples to support his argument. (See id. at 23–27.) In opposition, NSSF argues that Defendant fails to establish irreparable injury. (Opp’n Br. at 24.)
In its previous Opinion, the Court already recognized that granting the preliminary injunction had the possibility of harming the State in that it would be unable to enforce its own statute. (ECF No. 17 at 18.) The Court did not take the issue lightly, but nonetheless found that this potential harm was insufficient to deny the injunction. It finds no reason in Defendant’s brief to deviate from its previous conclusion. Accordingly, the Court finds, for purposes of this Motion, that Defendant will not suffer irreparable harm absent a stay.
D. Public Interest
Because Defendant has not shown that he is likely to succeed on an appeal, the Court finds that it is in the public interest to continue the injunction. See Novartis Consumer Health, Inc. v. Johnson & Johnson-Merck Consumer Pharm. Co., Civ. No. 00-5361, 2001 WL 493266, at *3 (D.N.J. 2001).
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant’s Motion to Stay will be DENIED. An appropriate Order will follow.
This is a victory for the NSSF and all engaged in commerce related to firearms in the Garden State. The purposefully vague terms of the law could subject civil rights organizations and even firearms instructors if they were engaged in so-called “marketing of gun-related products.” There’s far too much room for abuse of all constitutionally protected, lawful, and legitimate business dealings. That’s all beyond the blatant and obvious moves New Jersey was taking to usurp and work-around the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act proper.
In 2023, if the courts remain honest, there’s no way the state will be victorious over the NSSF once this has been completely put to bed. This is a big win which will hopefully help establish precedent that New Jersey has to respect the federal law protecting the firearm industry from frivolous lawsuits and or charges.