Franklin Armory have announced they were filing a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey. Specifically they have filed suit alleging that by barring them from selling the Franklin Armory Reformation, New Jersey has violated their 2nd Amendment rights.
Readers may recall that in SHOT Show 2018 Franklin Armory debuted the Reformation. Mostly a curiosity, the Reformation is an AR-style firearm that because of it’s lack of rifling, is legally not a “rifle”. In fact, legally speaking, the Reformation is a “firearm” under the 1934 National Firearms Act. However, under the 1968 Gun Control Act, it is a “short-barreled shotgun”. You begin to see where some of the legal headaches might come from.
New Jersey defines a rifle as, among other things, having a rifled bore. Also according to New Jersey state law, a shotgun must fire a fixed shotgun shell or one that doesn’t shoot fixed ammunition at all. It does not use shotgun shells, and does fire fixed ammunition. So according to the law as written, it cannot be a shotgun in New Jersey, nor can it be a rifle. So, it cannot fit the definition of an “assault weapon” or “sawed off shotgun” under New Jersey state law.
But Why New Jersey?
Franklin Armory tried to sell the Reformation in New Jersey through FFLs. They immediately encountered a byzantine web of bureaucracy that would make New York blush. That may be editorializing slightly, but the point stands. Initially, Franklin Armory was given the go-ahead to begin supplying FFLs in New Jersey. However, they also had to provide New Jersey with a formal letter listing the Reformation’s characteristics. At that point, the State Police changed their minds, telling Franklin Armory to halt sales while they awaited a legal opinion from the Office of the Attorney General.
Franklin Armory waited 30 days for the opinion letter, but none was forthcoming. So they informed the State Police they would be resuming sales in New Jersey. In response, the State Police barred them from selling the Reformation in the state. After some more legal back-and-forth, they received yet another notification from the State Police. In this one, Franklin Armory was informed that the Reformation is a shotgun under New Jersey state law, and therefore an “assault weapon” under the New Jersey Assault Weapons Ban (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1w(3)).
Well that’s a Mess
Definitely a mess. Franklin Armory has now filed a lawsuit against the State of New Jersey. In their filing, which is linked below, they lay out all of the facts of the case, and allege that New Jersey has violated their 2nd and 14th Amendment rights, as well as violating New Jersey state law. They also allege defamation, civil conspiracy, and deprivation of liberty and property without due process of the law.
It will be interesting to see where this case goes, although there will likely be many months, possibly even years, before a court returns a verdict. Once there is a verdict, it’s unlikely there will be any sweeping changes to New Jersey law.