Federal judge says New Jersey cannot sue gun manufacturers in latest defeat for Governor

by Bronson Winslow (with edits)

TRENTON, NJ – Governor Phil Murphy has been dealt yet another blow in his quest to restrict gun ownership and hold gun manufacturers accountable for crimes committed by criminals. Another one of his gun laws has been shot down.

According to a federal judge, a New Jersey law that permits the attorney general to take legal action against gun manufacturers has been blocked.

In a preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Zahid Nisar Quraishi, appointed by President Joe Biden, Tuesday, he declared that New Jersey’s “public nuisance law” is “directly in conflict” with the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), according to the opinion of the United States District Court of New Jersey Trenton Vicinage. A “public nuisance” law allows the attorney general to seek legal action against gun manufacturers if it is determined that their sales or marketing practices endanger public safety.

The PLCAA, enacted in 2005, protects gun manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when crimes have been committed with their products. The opinion was delivered in the NSSF v Platkin case and follows a Monday ruling by U.S. District Judge Reneé Marie Bumb, who placed a second temporary restraining order on portions of New Jersey’s concealed carry law.

“We think this is important because other states are currently considering public nuisance statues modeled on what New Jersey, New York, Delaware and California have done,” Lawrence Keane, a senior vice president for government and public affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and plaintiff in the case, told Politico.

“We will be filing a lawsuit in the coming months in California to challenge the California statute. Today’s decision will be impactful in giving other state legislatures pause before they enact an unconstitutional law,” he continued.

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Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was “disappointed” by Quraishi’s opinion, but is “confident that this decision will be swiftly reversed on appeal,” a spokesperson told Politico.

“The district court’s decision enjoining New Jersey’s public nuisance law is unprecedented and unsupportable,” New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The New Jersey Legislature acted lawfully when it adopted public nuisance legislation to hold the gun industry accountable, and nothing in federal law allows firearms manufacturers to violate our state statutes with impunity.”

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