McKeon Bill to Empower NJ Attorney General to Pursue Public Nuisance Violations Arising from the Sale or Marketing of Firearms Clears Assembly Panels

Gun violence, which leads to more than 100 deaths per day across the country, is a persistent public health crisis affecting many lives in New Jersey communities. Gun trafficking and the proliferation of straw purchasing are major drivers of crime and undermine efforts to institute strong gun laws nationwide.

To provide the Attorney General greater authority to pursue the culpability of the gun industry in certain cases, the Assembly Judiciary and Appropriations Committees on Monday approved legislation allowing the Attorney General to seek legal redress when firearms manufacturers, retail dealers, and other gun industry members may have knowingly or recklessly taken actions endangering the safety and health of New Jersey residents.

“In New Jersey, almost 80 percent of guns used in crimes are originally purchased outside of the state,” said Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex, Morris), sponsor of the legislation. “The gun industry has made little effort to help stem the flow of guns to the illegal market through gun shows, flea markets, straw purchasers, and theft. The industry, essentially, has not taken responsibility for its part in the increasing gun violence and its influence through product marketing.

This bill (A-6218) would establish a statutory cause of action for public nuisance created or contributed to by the conduct of gun industry members that allows the Attorney General to address injuries to public health and safety and to seek relief, including but not limited to, abatement and other injunctive relief, damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

“Gun violence is public health threat. New Jersey must have the ability to seek appropriate remedies against members of the gun industry who knowingly or recklessly endanger the public health and safety,” continued McKeon. “No one should get a pass when lives are on the line.”

The bill will now go to the Speaker for further consideration.