NSSF Sues Delaware, New Jersey Over ‘Public Nuisance’ Laws Intended to Bankrupt Gun Makers


These people won’t have jobs if the Gun Control Industry gets its way. (Dan Z. for TTAG)

One of the great frustrations of the Gun Control Industry is its general inability to get around the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. That’s the law that protects gun manufacturers and sellers from lawsuits when firearms they legally build and sell are used in the commission of a crime.

The PLCAA keeps gun makers and sellers in business. Without it, the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex, using its own attorneys and those in the tort business, would sue them into bankruptcy while people like the President and like-minded politicians cheer them on.

Because of the PLCAA’s robustness, enemies of the right to keep and bear arms seeking to wage lawfare against gun makers have been forced to take other tacks in their efforts to get at them, using other legal angles of attack. One of the most prominent ploys is “public nuisance” laws that claim the criminal misuse of gun makers’ products presents a hazard to society…one that firearms manufacturers are somehow liable for.

Two of the most recent states to enact such laws are Grampy Joe’s home state of Delaware and the state that takes unending pride in its never-ending push to further limit Second Amendment rights, New Jersey. Yesterday, the National Shooting Sports Foundation sued both states, challenging their public nuisance laws as transparent violations of the PLCAA.

Here’s the NSSF’s press release announcing the suits . . .

NSSF, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, filed suits against the attorneys general of Delaware and New Jersey, challenging recently-enacted “public nuisance” laws in both states that are “specifically designed to evade the judgment of Congress – and the Constitution.”

Both Delaware and New Jersey enacted public nuisance laws allowing the state and private parties to sue firearm manufacturers for the harm caused by the criminal misuse of lawfully sold firearms. In 2005, Congress barred these sorts of baseless lawsuits when it passed the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). Delaware and New Jersey’s laws are preempted by the PLCAA under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

Public nuisance lawsuits brought by municipalities against members of the firearm industry arose in the late 1990s and early 2000s to “regulate through litigation.” None of those dozens of lawsuits, including those by Wilmington, Del., and Newark, Camden County and the City of Camden, N.J., were successful. These municipal lawsuits intended to bankrupt the industry members or, through the massive cost of litigation, force them to accept settlement agreements that contained gun control provisions rejected by Congress and not supported by the American public. Delaware and New Jersey’s new laws are a blatant and unconstitutional attempt to return to an era of “regulation through litigation.”

“These laws enacted by the Delaware and New Jersey flout the will of Congress and undermine the U.S. Constitution,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “These state laws are at odds with bedrock principles of American law, which does not hold manufacturers and sellers legally responsible for the actions of criminals and remote third parties over whom the manufacturer and seller have no control when they misuse lawfully sold products.”

Delaware and New Jersey’s laws also violate the First Amendment, Second Amendment, Due Process Clause and Commerce Clause. These laws would impose liability on industry members for firearms lawfully sold in other states that later find their way into Delaware or New Jersey through the independent actions of remote third parties and criminals.

These laws are in violation of the PLCAA, the bipartisan law Congress intended to stop these frivolous claims. Its constitutionality has been upheld by every appellate court in the nation to consider the issue.

The PLCAA simply codified black letter law. The PLCAA keeps activist lawyers from placing the blame on members of the firearm industry for the criminal misuse of legal firearms lawfully manufactured and sold. No other industry in America had been targeted by such baseless, politically motivated lawsuits.

NSSF is also filing motions for preliminary injunction to stop the states from enforcing these laws.

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