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Federal Appeals Court Paves Path to Challenge California’s Child-Targeted Gun Advertising Law

by Joshua Brown
7 comments
Federal Appeals Court on California gun advertising law

On Wednesday, a federal appeals court set the stage for the potential invalidation of a California statute that prohibits advertising of firearms to minors, stating that the law excessively curtails lawful expression.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, composed of a three-judge panel, overturned a lower court’s decision that had previously rejected a petition for a preliminary injunction. Such an injunction would have halted the enforcement of the law during ongoing litigation against it.

The case will now return to the lower court for further proceedings.

Enacted last year, the disputed legislation forbids the promotion of gun-related products in a fashion that “is crafted, purposed, or seemingly tailored to be appealing to minors.”

Proponents of sport shooting and gun rights, along with the publisher of a magazine focusing on youth shooting activities, had filed for the injunction. They contended that the law unjustly inhibited the promotion of lawful gun events as well as educational programs on safe and responsible youth sport-shooting and hunting.

In its judgment, the appeals court indicated that the statute was prone to infringing upon First Amendment protections related to free speech. It further articulated that the law “fails to substantially and directly further California’s significant objectives in decreasing gun violence and illegal firearm use among minors.”

The summary of the court’s opinion noted an absence of empirical evidence suggesting that a minor in California had ever illegally procured a firearm, specifically due to an advertisement.

Governor Gavin Newsom denounced the appellate court’s decision, making reference to promotional campaigns by a firearms manufacturer that offers a more compact version of an AR-15 style rifle, promoted as suitable for “smaller enthusiasts.”

In a statement, Newsom said, “The court is essentially advocating for the advertisement of military-grade weapons to children. This is nothing short of madness.”

Newsom also indicated that he and Attorney General Rob Bonta are considering ways to contest the court’s decision.

This particular statute was among multiple gun control laws passed by California’s Democratic-majority legislature last year. The enactment of these laws followed a ruling by the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court, affirming that Americans possess the right to publicly carry firearms for self-defense—a significant broadening of gun rights.

This law was one of four measures that Governor Newsom had urged legislators to expedite, especially in the wake of mass shootings, such as the incident in Texas in May 2022 where 19 students and two teachers lost their lives in an elementary school.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Federal Appeals Court on California gun advertising law

What did the Federal Appeals Court decide regarding California’s gun advertising law?

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s decision, thereby paving the way for a potential challenge to a California law that prohibits the advertising of firearms to minors. The court stated that the law likely infringes upon First Amendment rights and does not substantially advance California’s interests in reducing gun violence among minors.

Who sought the injunction against the California law?

Sporting and gun rights groups, along with the publisher of a youth shooting magazine, sought a preliminary injunction against the California law. They argued that the legislation unjustly restricts the marketing of lawful gun events and educational programs on safe and responsible sport-shooting and hunting for youth.

What was Governor Gavin Newsom’s response to the court’s decision?

Governor Gavin Newsom strongly condemned the appellate court’s ruling. He described the court’s decision as advocating for the advertisement of military-grade weapons to children, calling it “nothing short of madness.” Newsom also indicated that he and Attorney General Rob Bonta are exploring options to contest the court’s decision.

Was there any evidence that the law had achieved its intended purpose?

According to the summary of the court’s opinion, there was no empirical evidence to indicate that a minor in California had ever illegally procured a firearm due to an advertisement, thereby questioning the law’s efficacy in achieving its goals.

What is the next legal step after this decision?

The case will now return to the lower court for further proceedings. It was originally sent back to the lower court because the appeals court overturned its initial decision to deny a preliminary injunction against the California law.

What was the broader context of this law in California’s legislative agenda?

This law was one among several gun control measures passed by California’s Democratic-controlled legislature last year. These laws were enacted after the U.S. Supreme Court, which leans conservative, affirmed Americans’ right to publicly carry firearms for self-defense. The California law in question was specifically one of four measures that Governor Newsom urged legislators to expedite in the wake of mass shootings, including a devastating incident in Texas in May 2022.

More about Federal Appeals Court on California gun advertising law

  • Federal Appeals Court Ruling on California Gun Advertising Law
  • Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
  • California’s Gun Control Legislation
  • Governor Gavin Newsom’s Official Statement on Court’s Ruling
  • U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Public Carrying of Firearms
  • Mass Shooting in Texas, May 2022
  • First Amendment of the United States Constitution

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7 comments

SkepticSarah September 14, 2023 - 4:43 am

Seems like the court made a point about the lack of evidence. Wonder how the lower court is gonna handle this now. They’ve got their work cut out for em.

Reply
JohnDoe47 September 14, 2023 - 8:34 am

Wow, this is huge news! First Amendment issues are always a hot button topic. Didn’t expect the court to actually overturn the lower one’s decision.

Reply
RedStateDan September 14, 2023 - 10:45 am

Finally, some common sense. Laws need to be based on facts and not just emotional reactions. kudos to the court.

Reply
CryptoQueen September 14, 2023 - 2:08 pm

What a turn of events! I mean, seriously, if there’s no evidence linking ads to illegal gun purchases by minors, then the law’s kinda overstepping, isn’t it?

Reply
GreenLeaf September 14, 2023 - 7:26 pm

Newsom’s mad lol but he should’ve seen it coming. If you’re going to restrict speech, better have a rock solid reason.

Reply
MomOfTwo September 14, 2023 - 7:46 pm

As a mom, I have mixed feelings about this. Sure, free speech is important but shouldn’t we be extra cautious when kids are involved?

Reply
TechyTom September 15, 2023 - 4:10 am

the implications here go beyond just gun laws. This is about how much the state can restrict speech and advertising. Interesting times we’re in.

Reply

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