Federal court resurrects Smith & Wesson's New Jersey lawsuit

Federal court resurrects Smith & Wesson's New Jersey lawsuit
VBlock / Pixabay

New Jersey doesn’t like guns. I don’t think that is breaking news to anyone reading this site. By now, we all know that the Garden State has done everything it can to be the most anti-gun state in the nation.

I mean, when you tell a New Jersey resident they should move to Illinois so they can be free and it’s not wrong, there’s a problem.

One of their tactics is to go after companies like Smith & Wesson for their advertising, only Smith & Wesson decided to fight back.

Unfortunately, a federal judge effectively killed their lawsuit, saying it was a state matter. It seems the Third Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.

One of the nation’s leading gun companies will be able to argue its case against New Jersey after a panel of federal judges reinstated their suit on Thursday.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Smith & Wesson’s claims New Jersey violated its First and Second Amendment rights could be heard in federal court. That reverses last year’s ruling from District Court Judge Julien X. Nealsm, a Biden appointee, which threw the case out. Federal courts will now decide whether the gunmakers claim New Jersey’s attempt to subpoena its advertising records are a violation of the Constitution hold water.

The appeals court unanimously found Judge Neals should not have dismissed the case because the case did not meet the requirements for federal courts to defer to New Jersey state courts on the Constitutional questions. It said the case did not fall into the carve-outs created by previous decisions,

“Federal courts owe due respect to state courts. Yet the Supreme Court has cautioned that abstention is appropriate only in “exceptional” cases,” Judge Thomas Hardiman wrote for the opinion of the court. “This case does not meet the carefully delineated criteria for abstention established in Sprint.”

At the heart of this is the state of New Jersey looking to attack Smith & Wesson over particular language used in advertising, much like how the Sandy Hook victims’ families went after Remington, yielding a $73 million settlement earlier this year.

Smith & Wesson argues that both their First and Second Amendment rights are being curtailed through this assault, and they’re not wrong.

After all, it seems the state is taking quotes out of context to try and make the gun company look irresponsible. As a result, it may well chill the speech of others in the state, including instructors.

However, Judge Paul Matey writing a concurrent opinion, argues that may well be the point.

“Future firearms instructors, fearing the arrival of subpoenas, might decide it is not worth advertising their services for ‘safety’ training,” Matey wrote. “Maybe range operators, sporting clubs, or hunting lodges, recalling some dusty pamphlet mentioning their attention to ‘safety’ will weigh waiting for investigators against early retirement. And almost certainly, every shop-owner stocking firearms for ‘self-defense’ or personal ‘safety’ can begin planning for periodic advertising inspections from the Attorney General. . Perhaps publishers will be punished too, with outdoor magazines thinking twice before speaking about the content of a product.”

And that’s not alarmism, either.

See, the problem is that this approach with regard to advertising is, at a minimum, an attempt to police gun companies’ speech. Yet more than that, it’s really an attempt to make sales in New Jersey untenable for firearm manufacturers. If there are no guns lawfully for sale in New Jersey, there will be little need to worry about gun control anymore.

The state labors under the belief that it’s lawful sales that drive violence when there couldn’t be anything further from the truth.

My hope is that this lawsuit drops the hammer on New Jersey hard. Residents there deserve better, even if they don’t realize it.