proposed laws

PA Bill Number: HB2072

Title: In primary and election expenses, further providing for place of filing.

Description: In primary and election expenses, further providing for place of filing. ...

Last Action: Referred to STATE GOVERNMENT

Last Action Date: Feb 28, 2024

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Smith & Wesson NJ Consumer Fraud v Civil Rights Case Remanded :: 03/22/2022

New Jersey – -( The state of New Jersey decided a long time ago to wage an all out war on the Second Amendment. Dating back to the late ’60s, the Garden State has been problematic, to put it lightly. The Florio free in 93’ days brought bad “gun control” measures, but law abiding citizens of the land of a thousand diners has not seen such a zeal for stripping away civil liberties as that which has been captured by Governor Phil “The Bill of Rights is Above my Paygrade” Murphy. Under the leadership of the Murph, former Attorney General Grewal launched a so-called consumer fraud investigation against Smith and Wesson.

Grewal felt it was in his jurisdiction to be able to look into any and every aspect of Smith and Wesson’s internal documents concerning advertising.

The suit that Smith and Wesson filed against the state, in lieu of handing over the documents that the Garden State Gestapo requested, was dismissed by District Court. From an order on the Smith and Wesson’s appeal:

In  October2020,  the  New  Jersey  Attorney  General issued a  subpoena under  the Act seeking  documents from Smith  &  Wesson related to the company’s advertisements in New  Jersey.  The  subpoena first made  a  general demandthatSmith    &    Wesson    produce copies    of    and    supporting documentation for “all advertisements for [Smith & Wesson’s] [m]erchandise that are or were available or accessible in New Jersey [c]oncerning home  safety,  concealed  carry,  personal protection, personal defense, personal safety, or home defense benefits   of   a [f]irearm.”


Instead of producing the documents when due under the subpoena, Smith & Wesson filed a complaint in the District of New  Jersey under 42  U.S.C.  §1983,  alleging  the  subpoena violated  the  First,  Second,  Fourth, Fifth, and  Fourteenth Amendments.  Two  months  later,  in  February  2021,  the  New Jersey  Attorney  General  sought  to  enforce  the  subpoena  in state court.  The  state  trial  court  ordered  Smith  &  Wesson  to show cause and threatened the company with contempt and a total ban on sales in New Jersey. In response, Smith & Wesson raised many of the same constitutional arguments it presented in  its  federal  suit.  The  state  court summarily rejected  those arguments and required  Smith  &  Wesson  to  produce  the subpoenaed  documents  within  30  days.  Smith  &  Wesson sought an  emergency  stay  of production, but  the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court and the New Jersey Supreme Court denied it.

Meanwhile, in federal court, Smith & Wesson amended its complaint to add claims that the Attorney General’s suit was “retaliation  for  Smith&  Wesson’s  exercise  of  its  First Amendment-protected right to petition [the District] Court for redress.

On March 10, 2022, an order set the record straight in that Smith and Wesson do have a legitimate complaint against the state and ordered the case be remanded with instructions. The 22-page order touches upon some very interesting concepts that are worth highlighting.

We must consider just one more factor—whether Smith & Wesson has been charged with wrongdoing for which it can be sanctioned—to determine whether the state action is “quasi-criminal.”See ACRA  Turf,  748  F.3d at138.We  agree  with Smith & Wesson that the subpoena enforcement action is not a suit initiated to punish wrongdoing.

Former Attorney General Grewal set out on a witch hunt when attacking Smith and Wesson, other companies from what I understand as well, and to read that the court agrees that Smith and Wesson did not engage in “quasi-criminal” activities is promising.

First, the Attorney General did not allege that Smith & Wesson violated any substantive legal duty. To date, he has not accused the  company  of  violating the Consumer  Fraud  Act; he  is investigating  possible  violations.
Second,  and  most  importantly,  Smith  &  Wesson did nothing wrong, so the suit cannot be one “initiated to sanction [it] for some wrongful act.” Id. at 79.Instead of producing the documents on the date specified on the subpoena, it petitioned a federal court to adjudicate its rights and obligations. Federal law authorizes just such a civil action (i.e., one alleging that the Attorney  General  violated  the  company’s  constitutional rights).
For   all  these  reasons,   we hold that  the   subpoena enforcement action was not quasi-criminal under Sprint.

This is a bit of fresh air coming from the courts concerning New Jersey’s continual trampling on liberties.

In  sum,  we  hold  that  abstention was not  warranted in this  case because the  document  production  order was not “uniquely in furtherance of the state courts’ ability to perform their  judicial  functions.” Sprint,  571  U.S.  at  78  (quoting NOPSI, 491 U.S. at 368).

Federal courts owe due respect to state courts. Yet the Supreme  Court has  cautioned  that abstention is  appropriate only in “exceptional” cases. 73 (quoting NOPSI, 491 U.S. at  368).  This  case  does  not  meet  the carefully  delineated criteria for abstention established in Sprint. We Will Therefore Vacate the  District  Court’s order  dismissing the  case  and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Perhaps more illuminating than the full order were comments made in a concurring opinion:

Now,  for  the  first  time,  the State  seeks  to  apply the Consumer Fraud Act to supplement these specific restrictions, waving  aside  concerns  about the protections  of  the First  and Second  Amendment rights  of  New  Jersey  residents,  as always, the name of “safety.” It is a well-traveled road in the Garden State, where long-dormant regulatory powers suddenly spring  forth  to  address  circumstances  that  have  not  changed. See Ass’n of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs Inc. v. Att’y Gen. New  Jersey,  974  F.3d  237,  258 (3d  Cir.  2020)(Matey,  J., dissenting)(discussing New Jersey’s inconsistent  restrictions on magazine capacity). Consider where this new highway will take  us.2Futurefirearms instructors,  fearing  the  arrival  of subpoenas, might decide  it  is  not  worth advertising their services for“ safety” training. 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.3 One  might  suspect that is the whole point.4

This portion of the concurring opinion pretty much calls out New Jersey on its continued quest to completely abolish the Second Amendment. The executive branch through the Attorney General’s office is abusing its powers and acts to chill the lawful commerce of any firearm, shooting, and or hunting-related business transaction by eliminating individual and corporate compulsion to advertise in the same. New Jersey has been running a racketeering ring on civil liberties for decades and it’s high time they get taken behind the woodshed for it.

What may come in an opinion from this remand should be interesting and we’ll be keeping our eyes on it.