PHILADELPHIA — Smith & Wesson, the gun manufacturer, must comply with a New Jersey subpoena seeking documents as officials investigate whether the company engaged in deceptive advertising that violates state consumer protection laws, a U.S. appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The panel, in a 2-1 vote, rejected the gunmaker’s efforts to have a federal court quash the 2020 subpoena after a New Jersey court refused to do so.

“Litigants get one opportunity to make their arguments. Not two,” Chief Judge Michael A. Chagares of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court in Philadelphia wrote.

The state is exploring whether Smith & Wesson, through “any misstatements and/or knowing omissions to its consumers about the safety, benefits, effectiveness, and legality of its products,” violated its Consumer Fraud Act.

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(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Among the documents the state sought was anything on whether concealed carry of a firearm “enhances one’s lifestyle,” and whether it’s safer to confront a perceived threat by drawing a gun Instead of moving away and avoiding the possible threat.

The investigation — which is civil, not criminal — began under former New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and has continued under his successor, Matthew J. Platkin.

Platkin’s office, in a statement, said the appeals court had “rightly rejected Smith & Wesson’s attempts to undercut the state courts’ confirmation of New Jersey’s right and duty to investigate potential fraud and misconduct.”

Smith & Wesson has previously argued that officials are abusing their power by joining forces with Second Amendment foes and violating the company’s free speech and other rights.

The company did not immediately return messages seeking comment left with both a media contact and lawyer Courtney G. Saleski, who argued the case.

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