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Federal Court Upholds New Jersey 'Public Nuisance' Gun Industry Law

A federal appeals court upheld a New Jersey public nuisance law enacted last year that allows the state to sue the gun industry under a “public nuisance” law, Politico reports. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ dismissal of a challenge brought by the National Shooting Sports Foundation comes as New Jersey and other states look for novel ways to balance public safety with gun rights. New Jersey’s public nuisance law may offer a template to other states under Thursday’s ruling. Other states have enacted similar measures designed to open the gun industry to legal action. “Because the Foundation’s case is not yet fully formed, we will vacate the preliminary injunction and remand with instructions to dismiss this action for lack of jurisdiction,” the court wrote.

Judge Zahid Quraishi had temporarily blocked the law from taking effect this year, saying it appeared at odds with the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005. However, the appeals court ruling said that the foundation’s theories of the law’s harm to its members “fail” because they offered vague allegations, and it did not show a substantial threat of the law’s enforcement. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the public nuisance law as part of a series of gun reforms. It is a relatively new approach that would allow the state to sue the firearms industry over public nuisance violations for the “sale, manufacturing, distribution, importing, or marketing of a gun-related product.” Murphy said he is “thrilled” by the ruling and his administration “will always fight for the safety of New Jersey residents, even when it means taking on gun sellers that put profits above innocent lives.”


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