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National Shooting Sports Foundation v. Platkin

Supporting New Jersey’s law subjecting gun industry actors to civil liability for creating or contributing to a public nuisance.

Case Information: National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc, v. Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, No. 22-cv-06646-ZNQ-TJB (United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, brief filed December 28, 2022)

At Issue: The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) filed a facial challenge to a New Jersey law enacted in July 2022 that subjects gun industry actors to civil liability for creating or contributing to a public nuisance and authorizes the New Jersey Attorney General to investigate and seek relief for violations. The NSSF claims that the law is preempted by broad protections granted to the gun industry through the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) and has asked the Court for a preliminary injunction preventing the Attorney General from enforcing the law.

Our Brief: We urge the Court to deny a preliminary injunction because the challenged law is plainly legitimate and is not preempted by PLCAA. The Supreme Court has held that a facial challenge must fail where the statute has a “plainly legitimate sweep,” and as we explain, the sweep of New Jersey’s public nuisance statute is plainly legitimate. Many potential claims it authorizes fall under one of PLCAA’s exceptions and others fall outside of PLCAA’s scope altogether.

While PLCAA can protect gun industry actors from certain tort claims arising from gun violence, it expressly contemplates that states will continue to regulate the gun industry. Among the Act’s many exceptions, the “predicate exception” denies protection to gun industry defendants whose knowing violation of a statute applicable to the sale or marketing of a firearms product is the proximate cause of harm. Plaintiffs throughout the United States have successfully invoked this “predicate exception” based on violations of statutes with similar features to New Jersey’s public nuisance law. PLCAA is also limited in ways the challenged law is not; for example, PLCCA only applies to federal firearms licensees, but the New Jersey law applies to non-licensees as well. PLCAA plainly does not preempt all civil liability claims against gun industry defendants and would not preempt all claims arising out of the challenged law. 

Further addressing the plaintiff’s claims, we argue that courts have regularly demonstrated their capacity to protect due process rights while considering civil claims against out-of-state gun industry defendants and that gun industry actors have long faced civil litigation arising from the consequences of their wrongful actions. Legal accountability has not brought about their financial ruin; the NSSF recently shared that the gun industry is financially sound.

For the reasons stated above and in the state’s brief, we respectfully urge the Court to deny NSSF’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.


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