Smith & Wesson Brands Inc., one of the nation’s largest gun makers, filed suit Tuesday to block a subpoena from the New Jersey attorney general seeking information about its advertising practices, the Wall Street Journal reports. The subpoena is part of a broader legal push by gun-control advocates targeting the gun industry over its marketing practices. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who has sued companies that sell parts used to make untraceable firearms called “ghost guns,” wants Smith & Wesson to turn over internal documents related to advertising guns in the state. The subpoena includes requests for any marketing claims that Smith & Wesson guns are safer than others, that carrying a concealed weapon enhances a person’s lifestyle and that novices can use the company’s guns for self-defense.
Smith & Wesson said in its complaint, filed in federal court in New Jersey, that the subpoena “seeks evidence of consumer fraud relating to advertising—but in reality, it seeks to suppress and punish lawful speech regarding gun ownership in order to advance an anti-Second Amendment agenda that the Attorney General publicly committed to pursue.” Smith & Wesson wants the court to stop the state from enforcing the subpoena. Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade group, said similar subpoenas were issued to other gun companies. Keane said the subpoena was overly broad. “Commercial speech is protected by the First Amendment,” he said. The gun industry had been largely free from legal attacks since a 2005 federal law granted it immunity from liability claims over gun violence. In 2019, the Connecticut Supreme Court said an AR-15 maker could be held responsible for marketing practices that allegedly made the semiautomatic gun the weapon of choice for mass shooters.