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Ninth Circuit Reprimands Lawmakers, Grants Injunction Against California Law Targeting Gun Sales – Bearing Arms


A California law apparently intended to restrict the sale of firearms to minors infringes on the free speech rights of adults, according to a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In its ruling issued Thursday morning, the court overturned a lower court decision denying an injunction against law enforcement, scoring a resounding victory for both First and Second Amendment advocates .

Writing for the majority, Justice Kenneth Lee governed that the law prohibiting the marketing and advertising of firearms that “appear reasonably attractive to minors” is likely to violate the First Amendment, since the statute is so broadly written that advertisements directed at adults that can legally purchase a firearm would be swept away. in its provisions.

Although California has a substantial interest in reducing gun violence and the illegal use of firearms by minors, its law does not “directly” and “materially” further either goal. California cannot straitjacket the First Amendment by, on the one hand, allowing minors to own and use firearms and then, on the other hand, ban truthful advertisements about such legitimate firearm use. There is no evidence in the record that a minor in California has ever illegally purchased a gun, let alone because of an advertisement. Nor has the state produced any evidence that truthful ads about legal gun use, such as an ad for hunting rifles in Junior Shooters in sports magazines, encourage illegal or violent gun use between minors Simply put, California cannot rely on speculators to spin a narrative without evidence that its law curbing the First Amendment “significantly” decreases illegal gun use among minors. The First Amendment requires more than good intentions and wishful thinking to ensure that the government knows about speech.

California’s law is also more extensive than necessary, including truthful advertisements about the legal use of firearms for adults and minors. For example, an ad aimed at adults with a camouflage skin on a firearm may be illegal because minors may be attracted to it.

Although the state of California had argued that the statute did not violate the First Amendment given the wider latitude given to commercial speech regulations, the panel was not swayed, and Lee wrote that, even under a reduced standard of intermediate scrutiny, the law does not pass. constitutional meeting in light of the fact that “the state has not demonstrated that the broad ban on certain truthful firearms-related advertising is sufficiently tailored to significantly advance the state’s goals of preventing gun violence and illegal possession firearms law among minors”.

Indeed, the panel noted that the state provided no evidence that a minor had ever illegally purchased a firearm at retail in the state, much less that the problem is so widespread that it would be necessary to cool the speech of the manufacturers and sellers of weapons. At the same time, the law prohibits the representation of lawful use of weapons by minors, including target shooting and hunting under adult supervision.

Furthermore, section 22949.80 does not apply only to speech that solicits minors to illegally purchase or use firearms. Instead, it applies to any advertisement “offering or promoting any firearm-related product in a manner designed, intended, or reasonably appearing to appeal to minors.” Because of this broad wording, § 22949.80 facially includes speech directed at adults, who may legally purchase firearms, so long as such speech also reaches minors. That alone refutes the state’s argument that the statute is inherently about illegal activity.

In his conclusion, Lee argued that the state has “many tools” at its disposal to address youth gun-related crime, but it “cannot ban truthful advertisements about the legal use of firearms among adults and minors unless he can demonstrate that such First Amendment intrusion will significantly increase the state’s interest in reducing the illegal and violent use of firearms by minors.” There is simply no evidence that gun ads, even those extolling the virtues of youth-oriented firearms like a Crickett rifle or a JR-15, are even remotely connected to rates of juvenile delinquency or are encouraging teenagers to get an illegal gun, but that doesn’t stop anti-gunners in the state legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom from trying to tackle the First Amendment. Today’s crackdown is a beautiful thing to watch, and Lee’s opinion granting an injunction (along with Judge Lawrence VanDyke’s approval) is an important step toward removing the statute from the books entirely. As the Coalition for Firearms Policy points out, we may even witness the start of a new day in the Ninth Circuit; historically one of the most hostile courts on earth when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms.


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