Smith & Wesson filed a lawsuit challenging what it described as an "unconstitutional fishing expedition" by the state government in New Jersey. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has been sifting through S&W's promotional materials to find any evidence of fraudulent advertising practices.
Grewal issued several subpoenas to S&W looking for advertisements claiming that guns make people safe, that untrained people could easily handle a Smith & Wesson firearm, and that firearms enhance people's lifestyle. S&W seeks to combine those subpoenas and have the court declare them unconstitutional.
The gunmaker says that most of its claims are opinions held by the general public, as evidenced in hundreds of millions of internet searches.
"The Subpoena presents no legitimate inquiry into any purported fraud, and instead targets mere opinions and other protected statements allegedly made by Smith & Wesson," the company said.
The lawsuit also states that "the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to free speech no matter whether the government disagrees with that speech."
Thus, the plaintiff accuses the attorney general of violating the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments rights and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
Smith & Wesson says the AG was trying to crack down on the Second Amendment rights by exploiting the consumer protection laws. The company says such actions are politically motivated and influenced by association with various gun control organizations such as the Do Not Stand Idly By" group.
"The Attorney General and his anti-Second Amendment allies must seek the changes they want [to be] made through the will of the People, rather than by using a shadow pressure campaign of unlawful litigation and government regulatory action," the lawsuit continues.
Additionally, the plaintiff says that the state government was using extra-legal means to malign the company by linking it to gun violence through the "name and shame" tactics.
"In reality, however, the Attorney General is simply using the power of the State to extra-legally brand Smith & Wesson as a bad actor in an obvious attempt to cause harm to Smith & Wesson's business and reputation."
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced in 2018 that the state would be reporting crimes based on the gun manufacturer whose firearm was used to commit a crime.
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