EXCLUSIVE – A consumer protection group is warning Republican governors against attempts by left-leaning lawyers to use public nuisance lawsuits as a backdoor way to outlaw guns.
The Alliance For Consumers (AFC), a nonprofit organization aimed at “ensuring consumer protection efforts, class action lawsuits, and attorney general enforcement actions benefit consumers,” sent a letter to all GOP governors Friday saying that since the many state legislatures have recently flipped to a Republican majority, they should be on the lookout for progressive activists attacking gun rights through these legal actions.
“With victories through the legislative process becoming harder to achieve, the progressive left is increasingly looking to an alliance of activists, officials, and trial lawyers to weaponize the judicial system against conservatives and impose key policy priorities by way of public nuisance lawsuits,” AFC president O.H. Skinner wrote.
“Under the guise of compensation for injuries to the overall public interest, these lawsuits open the door to courts imposing sweeping policy solutions outside the traditional governmental processes or otherwise reshaping the economy through massive money transfers,” Skinner added.
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Public nuisance laws vary from state to state. Historically, they have been used to protect consumers and the public against things like polluted waterways or hazardous public spaces.
However, Skinner said “activists have found a way to use the court system as a weapon to force companies and consumers to comply with a progressive worldview without legislative oversight or public scrutiny.”
“If you hear someone say ‘we should bring a nuisance case,’ that is a Trojan horse to accomplish something that you probably don’t agree with.” Skinner said in an interview with Fox News Digital.
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Skinner claims that “the true goal of most nuisance suits over things like plastics, fossil fuels, or firearms is seemingly to remove products and services from in the market that do not align with the progressive agenda.”
Skinner said progressive trial lawyers will try to make the case that just as fossil fuels and plastics are bad for the environment that is shared by the public, guns can also cause public harm, and therefore, courts should curb their use because of this “public nuisance.”
Once example of this already taking place, Skinner noted, is a case from 2022 brought by a leading personal injury law firm – Napoli Shkolnik— that filed public nuisance suits on behalf of New York cities Buffalo and Rochester.
According to Skinner, that suit claimed that major American firearms manufacturers’ work to design, produce, market and sell has “created, contributed to, and maintained the public nuisance of unlawful possession, transportation and disposition of firearms, and the utilization of guns in the commission of an offense.”
“Activists have largely been able to hide the ideological aspects of public nuisance litigation,” Skinner said. “But make no mistake: public nuisance claims are about liberal control, not just about money, and certainly not about helping consumers.”
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Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen told Fox News Digital that while public nuisance laws “have their place and are a “tool that needs to exist,” governors and state legislators should consider making changes to such laws so they are not abused.
“We see these progressive groups getting creative and trying more and more different alternative avenues they can to get around some of these preemption laws,” Knudsen said.