Smith & Wesson, one of largest gun manufacturers in the country, sued New Jersey in federal court Tuesday to stop a subpoena from the state’s attorney general which they say was part of an anti-Second Amendment agenda.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the October 13 subpoena is a move linked to a widespread push from gun-control advocates to target the firearms industry for its marketing approaches.
Attorneys for Smith & Wesson said the subpoena, filed by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, “seeks evidence of consumer fraud relating to advertising – but in reality, it seeks to suppress and punish lawful speech regarding gun ownership in order to advance an anti-Second Amendment agenda that the Attorney General publicly committed to pursue.”
Included in the state’s subpoena are requests for Smith & Wesson’s marketing statements claiming their firearms are safer than their competitors, concealed carry enhances an individual’s lifestyle, and beginners can handle the company’s firearms effectively for self-defense purposes.
The gun maker seeks to prevent the state from applying the subpoena.
National Shooting Sports Foundation general counsel and Senior Vice President Lawrence Keane said similar orders have been sent to other gun companies, adding that the subpoena was very broad.
“Commercial speech is protected by the first amendment,” he said.
According to Keane, the moves are meant to “get to discovery” in an effort to force gun companies to settle on new rules in legal settlements.
“They will … try to impose through settlements [gun-control] measures they can’t get passed through Congress or in the states,” he told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s regulation through litigation.”
Grewal previously sued businesses that allow the creation of “ghost guns” by selling parts used to make the untraceable firearms, the Journal reported.
In 2005, federal law allowed the gun industry to be immune from liability claims when it comes to gun violence. But last year, the Connecticut Supreme Court said gunmakers could be considered legally responsible for any marketing that made their firearm the preferred weapon for mass shooters.
The same court overturned a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by families of the victims of 2012’s Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting that was previously dismissed.
Following that decision, another wrongful-death lawsuit was filed against creators of the AR-15 style firearms used by the gunman in the Law Vegas massacre in 2017.
In the midst of a global pandemic and widespread civil unrest, gun companies nationwide have seen staggering increases in gun sales. Smith & Wesson recorded $230 million in gross sales from firearms alone during 2020’s third quarter, over twice what the company reported just one year ago.