New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin
(AP Photo/Mike Catalini)
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By Lee Williams

New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced Monday he has created a new statewide office specifically designed to harass the gun industry through civil nuisance lawsuits.

According to a press release, the mission of Platkin’s Statewide Affirmative Firearms Enforcement or SAFE Office will be to bring “civil enforcement actions against firearm companies to hold them accountable for violations of the law that harm the health and safety of New Jersey residents.”

The SAFE Office’s primary tool will be a new law Gov. Phil Murphy signed earlier this month, which allows the Attorney General to file civil suits “for certain public nuisance violations arising from sale or marketing of firearms.”

“At a time when the U.S. Supreme Court is undermining states’ efforts to protect their residents from the carnage of gun violence, New Jersey’s Statewide Affirmative Firearms Enforcement Office will use the new public nuisance legislation to hold the gun industry accountable,” Platkin said in his press release. “With the establishment of this office, we are sending a clear message to every participant in the firearms industry: if you violate our laws, you will pay.”

Platkin’s plan drew a swift response from Alan M. Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation.

“Weaponizing the New Jersey Department of Justice to file public nuisance lawsuits against firearms manufacturers and retail dealers for making and selling legal firearms is deplorable,” Gottlieb said. “The Second Amendment Foundation will challenge this blatant attack and chilling effect on the right to make, sell and purchase firearms in court. New Jersey may have been the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights but they are the last state to recognize it.”

A history of overreach

Last year, we revealed that former New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was using “undercover” detectives to entrap firearms retailers and manufacturers – especially those in other states – into selling products prohibited in New Jersey, in the hopes that the exorbitant fees and penalties he could extort from them through the state’s the state’s Consumer Fraud Act would force the owners out of business.

Grewal has since taken a position with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the Biden administration.

In his Monday press release, the current Attorney General touted Grewal’s targeting of two Florida gun dealers he claimed were “advertising and selling illegal large-capacity magazines (LCMs) to New Jersey consumers online.” One dealer agreed to pay a $150,000 civil penalty. The AG has not collected on the other dealer’s civil judgement of $175,000.

Now, instead of relying on New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, Platkin said the new civil nuisance law will “provide even more robust enforcement tools, by allowing the Department to hold firearms manufacturers and retail dealers accountable for endangering the safety and health of New Jersey residents through the sale, manufacture, distribution, or marketing of lethal, but nonetheless legal, firearms.”

Advertising is protected speech

Platkin is on extremely shaky ground here, constitutionally. Not only is he using civil nuisance lawsuits to infringe upon the Second Amendment, his plan to regulate marketing/advertising could prove unconstitutional, too.

The First Amendment protects advertising, which is known as “commercial speech.” However, advertising found to be deceptive may be regulated.

The Supreme Court established rules for regulating commercial speech in its 1993 decision Edenfield v. Fane.

KelTec advertisement ad mi casa
Advertising is commercial speech. (Courtesy KelTec)

“The commercial market place, like other spheres of our social and cultural life, provides a forum where ideas and information flourish. Some of the ideas and information are vital, some of slight worth. But the general rule is that the speaker and the audience, not the government, assess the value of the information presented. Thus, even a communication that does no more than propose a commercial transaction is entitled to the coverage of the First Amendment,” the High Court found.

Takeaways

New Jersey’s new SAFE Office, like the plethora of anti-gun laws recently passed in New York and California, is clearly retaliatory for the massive Second Amendment victory in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. Platkin admitted as much in his press release.

Now, Platkin along with Governors Hochul and Newsom will have to be taught that bluster and braggadocio are not an affirmative defense for violating both the Constitution and an opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the meantime, residents of New Jersey, California and New York will have to wait to enjoy the same legal protections of other states, whose governors care more about following the law and obeying their oath to the U. S. Constitution than they do pandering to their political base.

 

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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.

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55 COMMENTS

  1. There are also laws to retaliate against frivolous lawsuits such as expressed by the NJ AG. Fight back folks.

    • “Fight back folks.”

      All it takes is the money to do so.

      Are you willing to pony-up *your* hard-earned cash to finance such a lawsuit?

      • There are a lot of 2A friendly lawyers out there looking to make a name for themselves and who would gladly take something like this pro bono.

      • Stop complaining for lack of money. They’re stealing yours to file these lawsuits and it means voting these leftist POS out of office and stand up and take back your state from socialism.

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    • These great “enforcers of the law” cry foul about things like second amendment sanctuaries but undermine and ignore laws and precedents they don’t agree with themselves as supposed leaders of government. It’s an political. I wish they could boot them out but NJ residents seem to like these tyrants.

    • from NJ here….heard about that and pretty quickly did the following:

      1. renewed my NRA membership for another 2 years
      2. sent a check to the firearms policy coalition
      3. sent a check to ANJRPC (association of NJ rifle & pistol clubs)
      4. sent emails to my state legislators

  2. Why would I pay any judgement as a FL dealer that NJ creates out of thin air? Pound sand ya bunch of freedom hating commies.

    • “Why would I pay any judgement as a FL dealer that NJ creates out of thin air?”

      Because a Florida deputy shows up with a signed judge’s order to collect, or he padlocks your doors?

      They use legal goons for their dirty work… 🙁

      • It sounds like one decided to pay and the other one either can’t or won’t. Hopefully it’s won’t. What does Florida say about NJ fining a Florida business?

      • Don’t these clowns ever READ the US Constitution? Go find YOUR copy and read Article Three Section Two Paragraph Three.. in all cases where…. a State is a party to the action, the Supreme COurt shall have ORIGINAL jurisdiction. In other words, no lesser court can take up any such case.

        If the AtG of New Jersey is pressing the case, the State of New Jersey is the moving party, thus the case can ONLY be taken up by SCOTUS. No lesser court cn take it up.

        If I were those two dealers in Florida I’d make a copy of the relevent section of the US Constittuion and send it to this idiot via registered mail, retrn receuipt signature required. Include a hand written note that you DEMAND he uphold the US Constitutiion. which he swore anoath to uphold and apply, and that you will not respond to ANY action other than that. I’d be demanding an injunction from my local Florida court holding in beyance the demand for payment, and a demand to direct this matter to the appropriate court, as noted above.

        THen take up a civil action against this puffed up moron for failing to uphold the oth of office he swore prior to taking his position. Felon level offense, that is. No more public office for you Bonzo.

  3. Lawyers like the NJ AG make me sick. Despite rulings from SCOTUS that are quite plain to even us non-lawyers, they continue to ignore said rulings. It’s like they just throw crap on the wall to see what will stick and hope that no one can afford to sue them in court.
    These are the true deplorables.

  4. I do not see the problem.
    Surely every State is empowered to enact any law within their remit and the State ELECTORATE is empowered to remove them from office if the majority disagree with their descisions at the next election and have the power to challange through the courts at any time. It’s called DEMOCRACY.
    It’s nothing to do with being a LEFTIE or a COMMIE and, even if it were, it’s still only the business of the electorate of that particular State. You may not agree of course but the fact is is that there is nought you can do about it except complain like spoilt brats.
    There are ‘Winds Of Change A’Blowing’ and they are NOT on the side of the irresponsible gun-owners of America or the firearm industry. IF they cannot control themselves then Society has to do it for them.

    • Listen to Albert preaching! It’s none of OUR business what New Jersey does. So, WTF is Albert doing on an American forum, inputting the Queen’s pablum into AMERICAN discussions?

      Albert, you need to go back to sucking the Queen’s teat, and leave us alone.

    • “It’s called DEMOCRACY.”

      We’ll, in the first place, the US is not a democracy. Surprised? That’s OK, so are nearly all American Leftists/progressives and maybe half of the remainder of other Americans, thanks to a failed public ed system and corrupt Leftist politicians and media spinners.

      More to the point of the desired outcome of this ridiculous edict- it would be far, FAR more affective to just go after the real nuisances, which are the human lawbreakers. There’s something the general public can affect, and quite rapidly. Of course, if that was done in a wide spread and vigorous manner, crime would go down and Americans could go back to living their lives without constantly checking their six. The result of all that would be a huge reduction in the victim status of many American pawns and further reductions in the power and control of the elitist Left over them.

      But I get it, Al- UK gave that concept up decades before American blue states and metro areas did. Today, I doubt most people in Londonstan can even spell “freedom”, let alone live that way.

    • it’s the CRIMINALS doing the shootings. Criminals are not “irresponsible gun owners”. Criminals are those who do not obey nor abide by any laws .

    • Rights guaranteed by the Bill of rights are not subject to the whims of the majority. Laws that violate those fundamental rights are void. Moreover, under the Supremacy Clause, state laws that contravene federal laws such as the PLCAA are voidable.

    • OF course, YOU don’t SEE a fucking PROBLEM with this BECAUSE the NANNY state YOU live in has nothing comparable to the US Constitution. It’s EXACTLY what I have been trying to get through to you since you started tossing your 2 pence worth into discussions which you have no fucking clue what you are talking about. YOU cannot SEE the problem because YOU cannot relate to the problem.
      it’s still only the business of the electorate of that particular State. If it was only a state issue that MIGHT be the case as long as it does not violate the Constitutional rights of the people. However, what is being suggested here is interfering with Interstate Commerce (by going after out of state manufacturers and sellers) which is a federal issue.
      Wouldn’t it be funny if the “irresponsible gun-owners of America and the firearm industry” decided to tell you all to go fuck yourselves the next time some bad man decides you people should no longer exist.

    • Nice try Albert. You have no idea what you are even talking about. Plus without us… Yea you would be speaking German and eating Sauerkraut.

    • “I do not see the problem.” said the subject a hall.
      Wonder why a h does not see the problem, is it because he is: blind, ignorant, stupid?
      The answer is all of the above. Blind to the facts because he doesn’t want to see, ignorant in that a h has a lack of freedom due to having lived under the thumb of the crown. or is a h merely stupid and unable to comprehend? Yes, all of the above.

    • The U.S.A. is not, and never has been a Democracy, you fucking idiot. Get it through your walnut sized brain, Constitutional Republic, Con-sti-tu-shun-al Reeeeee-pub-lick.

      And that’s enough REEEEEEEEE out of you, tard cart. Addressing the rest of that verbose word salad string of moronic prose, like everything else you post, wrong.

    • Umm . . . lemme break it down for ya, Subject. America IS NOT, and NEVER HAS BEEN, a democracy – so forget that nonsense. We are a LIMITED CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC ya daft Limey ponce. We recognize this bizarre concept that you subjects and Euroweenies don’t understand called “inherent individual rights” (Google it, sometime). Our Constitution has specific protections FROM GOVERNMENT INTRUSION for some of those rights – others are implied (but still protected, if SCOTUS is doing its job). If SCOTUS says I have an inherent right to keep and bear arms (and they have, three different times, now), then thanks to the 14th, if the state tries to deny my those rights? They can go take a flying f*** at a rolling donut.

      WE. ARE. NOT. A. DEMOCRACY, you daft arse. “Democracy” is two wolves and a sheep trying to agree on what’s for dinner. Homie don’t play dat. By your “logic”, 50% + 1 of the American people could reinstitute slavery. After all, “it’s a DEMOCRACY”, amirite????

      You’re a ridiculous, subject, fool of a tool, and you probably abuse small animals. Go pound salt in your anal orifice, you pathetic subject, and QUIT ANNOYING US WITH YOUR IDIOT, IRRELEVANT, IGNORANT slave-mind “opinions” – WE DON’T GIVE A F*** what you think, subject. Haven’t since 1776.

      Sod off, swampy.

    • ALLLLLLLBERTT

      You FAIL to comprehend that the ntion of the United States of America re not one coheisve blob, but fifty independent separate political entities, each tasked with determing what rules apply within their own state, and ALSO deciding corporately what rules will apply to ALL FIFTY of the states. This latter set of “rules” is carefully enumerated in the Constitioni as ratified back in 178X, and then ammended from time to time since, with the approval and support of two thirds of all the states. Those matters not clearly addressed and assigned in the Constution, the law of ALL the land, remain with the several states, or with the people.
      New Jersey can put any acts into place they are barmy enough to vote in. But NOT ONE OF THEM can in any way affect any OTHER state. NewJersey can demand that before crossing any street on foot, the interested party must dance at least four measures of a fst Irish jig. But that law can NEVER apply to anyone pysically outside New Jersey.

      IF you insist on poking your wide flt Brit schnozz into ourYankee business, I’d suggest, no, I DEMAND, you take a week or two and STUDY our form of government. It is NOT that under which you lot that side the puddle muddle along. Until you DO comprehend at least the basics of how we do things THIS side the puddle you will continue to make a monstrous ass of your sorry self. Now hie yourself off to Niemann and Marcus to try and buy a chef’s knife. Report back on yuor success or lack thereof.

  5. first to ratify…last to recognize. gold.
    self defense, harming the safety of new jersey residents.
    i would relish some of these buttweasels experiencing total defeat.

    • Oh, dear.

      Somebody really screwed up.

      Don’t worry, I’m sure they have somebody who will correct that error on staff…

      • Ah…good old civics class. This fucktangular shit-show of craptastic bullshit with the left trying to undo what is perfectly clear with our RIGHT to defend ourselves…is a direct result of the g’ment terminating civics. It was a master-stroke. How can anyone be aware that their rights are being taken, if they are ignorant and unaware of what those rights even are?

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  7. It’s nothing but political warfare. They’re focusing on political enemies instead of fighting crime that harms citizens. A functional society wouldn’t reelect these people.

  8. Manufacturers and Law Enforcement Distributors,

    DO NOT SELL GUNS TO AGENCIES IN THESE STATES! Whatever you expect to make on the deal, one lawsuit will wash it all away. Don’t sell to departments, agencies or the State. Don’t return guns sent in for service. If everyone stood together, we could make the State and their minions feel the pain just like everyone else.

    • “Don’t return guns sent in for service.”

      Well, I agree with what you said except that part. They kinda have to return them or its a theft type of thing, BUT! they don’t have to repair then unless under warranty. BUT AGAIN! there is a possibility they can cancel the warranty legally for a variety of reasons.

      • “We don’t ship to slave states. If you want it back come and pick it up. In the meantime we’ll store in the open-air dog pen out back.”

        • Didn’t think about that. Yeah, don’t ship it back but make them come pick it up – send state employee people personally to do it. When they come pick it, to be responsible when transferring it back the company will fully comply with that states laws and concepts for ‘public safety’, for NJ and New York and California and any ‘may-issue’ state that is bucking the Bruen decision

          1. require the state AND the governor AND the AG and the state agency supply three years of social media accounts, text messages, emails, state inter-agency memos.

          2. references from three sheriffs AND three governors AND three AG’s in constitutional carry states.

          3. a mental health evaluation of all those in those states that would handle the firearms, the Governor, the AG

          4. restrict pick up place to only those doors with a sign that says they can enter only those doors.

          5. require for all those states that the Governor, the AG, and all in those states that would handle the firearms, to undergo a training the company says must be done for all aspects of firearms handling.

          6. require each official person (e.g. law enforcement) handling or touching the firearm, the AG, the Governor, to have a letter of permission from the company for each fire arm.

          So sure, we will fix your firearm under warranty or otherwise like the contract says but you need our permission first before you exercise your rights under the contract then you must adhere to what we want then you must abide by only being able to exercise your contract rights in areas where we specifically say you can, then you are limited to 10 parts of a firearm per firearm for each pickup. In the name of public safety and strict compliance with your own states laws, you have freedom to exercise your rights under the contract only if and how and when and where we say so.

          So sure, we will fix them and you can come pick them up. What do you mean the contract says but we are chilling and suppressing and oppressing and persecuting you in the exercise of your contract rights?

          Ya know whats really ironic though …. these states state agencies order and use firearms made in constitutional carry states.

    • Exactly the government of nj is a nuisance and dangerous to the people of nj. Should be a slam dunk kinda case but it’s nj so….

  9. “Bruen” put forth a test of defense of the Second Amendment. The test is the determination of gun owners (not just 2A defenders) to finance lawsuits brought to enforce “Bruen”. “Determination” is defined as willingness to fund the organizations attacking potentially unconstitutional laws.

    Wonder if any non-leftist billionaires will assist in backing law suits defending 2A?

  10. If he looks like a weasel, walks like a weasel, and sounds like a weasel, then yep Platkin is a weasel. Unbelievably, this AG is worse than Bonta in California. How is that possible?

  11. NJ and NY no longer want to be members of the USA. They subvert SCOTUS decisions, they spit on the Constitution, they treat law-abiding citizens as criminals, they support open borders by rewarding invaders with voting rights, driver’s licenses, and welfare. They support Marxist militias such as Antifa and BLM, while labeling patriots as terrorists. They prosecute you for self-defense, and set your attacker free. Their exorbitant tax rates clearly signal that citizens exist to serve the needs of the state. These two states are the USA in name only.

    • You forgot a couple like POTUS and the progressive left that are running/ruining the country. They ALL dance to Obama who in turn dances to Soros tune so he can finance all his big homes.

  12. The Supreme Court needs to be open everyday and rule immediately on already DECIDED CASES THAT ARE THE LAW OF THE LAND…Federal law trumps state laws…The Firearms industry has this protection from frivolous lawsuits…SCOTUS should immediately throw out any case that crosses the line…The process should never take months or years to resolve…

  13. I like Alan Gottlieb’s statement, “New Jersey may have been the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights but they are the last state to recognize it.”
    That quote deserves to be repeated, along with the oft-quoted “New Jersey: the state where gun rights go to die.”

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