Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador authored an amicus brief to the United States Court of Appeals regarding a New Jersey law regulating firearm manufacturers.
The brief argues against the law’s ability to punish gun manufacturers in other states if they contribute to “public nuisances” in New Jersey. According to the New Jersey State Legislature, “any condition which injures, endangers, or threatens to injure or endanger or contributes to the injury or endangerment of the health, safety, peace, comfort, or convenience of others” counts as a public nuisance.
Labrador accused the law of violating the commerce clause and specifically the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed in 2005. The act prohibits people from filing civil lawsuits against firearm manufacturers, distributors, dealers and importers of firearms for damages done by those misusing guns.
Even though it is a New Jersey law, Labrador highlighted its relevance to Idahoans.
“Idaho has a sovereign interest in regulating these businesses as it sees fit and ensuring they are protected from extreme policy initiatives of other states,” Labrador said. “New Jersey’s national attack on gun industry members also threatens to interfere with the rights of citizens in Idaho to keep and bear arms.”
The brief drew comparisons between New Jersey’s law and a Minnesota law regarding carbon emissions.
The proposed law regulated power generation contributing to carbon dioxide emissions in Minnesota. It was struck down by a district court because of the extraterritoriality doctrine, which states that a state cannot regulate conduct “occurring wholly outside that State’s borders.”
Labrador said that New Jersey’s law should receive the same treatment as the Minnesota law.
The brief critiques the argument that regulating firearms in this way as part of a state’s police power is improper.
“A state has never been able to regulate conduct beyond its own borders simply by tagging its regulation with a “police power” label,” Labrador wrote in the brief.
He also says that the New Jersey law oversimplifies the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.