Trenton – In an effort to hold firearm industry leaders accountable for the gun violence epidemic, the Senate today advanced legislation sponsored the Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Nellie Pou which would allow the Attorney General to file public nuisance claims against gun industry members.
“Far too many families have been torn apart by gun violence. We cannot stand by and accept the fact that firearms are the leading cause of death for children in the United States. While we desperately need federal legislation, this measure will allow the State Attorney General to take action and seek damages for shootings here in New Jersey,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “We must do everything we can to stop this, which starts with holding those responsible accountable for their actions.”
Under the bill, S-1893, the Attorney General may seek appropriate remedies for public nuisance violations committed by firearm manufacturers, retailers, and other gun industry members who knowingly or recklessly endanger public health and safety. Remedies may include abatement or other injunctive relief of the activity creating the public nuisance, damages, and attorney’s fees and costs.
“This senseless violence has gone on long enough. We cannot in good conscience continue down the path we are now on,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “If gun manufacturers or retailers act in ways that constitute a ‘public nuisance’ in the eyes of the Attorney General they should be held liable for appropriate penalties.”
The bill would also require gun industry members to implement reasonable controls for the sale, manufacture, distribution, importing, or marketing of gun-related products. These may include procedures and safeguards that are designed to prevent the distribution of gun-related products to straw purchasers, traffickers, and criminals; prevent the loss or theft of gun-related products; and ensure the gun industry member does not promote the unlawful sale, manufacturer, or marketing of gun-related products.
This bill is similar to a law enacted in New York, which subjects gun industry members to liability for public nuisance if they knowingly or recklessly create, maintain, or contribute to a condition that endangers the safety or health of the public through the sale, manufacturing, importing, or marketing of guns.
The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 24-16.