Tuesday, December 6, 2022 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bid to block California ban on firearms ads for minors on thin ice

The publisher of Junior Shooters magazine and gun enthusiasts claim the ad ban is misguided because minors can buy and possess firearms with adult supervision.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A bid by the publisher of Junior Shooters magazine and other Second Amendment advocates to halt enforcement of a recent California law that prohibits marketing firearms to minors looks unlikely to succeed.

U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder, at a hearing Monday in Los Angeles, tentatively denied the request for a preliminary injunction against enactment of Assembly Bill 2571, which Junior Sports Magazines Inc. and the other plaintiffs allege unfairly targets pro-Second Amendment organizations by barring any kind of industry advertising designed to make firearms appealing to minors.

The judge didn't issue a final ruling at the hearing but indicated that she's unlikely to make major changes to her tentative decision.

"California has adopted a broad ban on speech about items that are not only entirely lawful to use and possess by adults and minors, even in California, and are constitutionally protected under the Second Amendment," Anna Barvir, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said at the hearing.

Barvir in particular objected to what she said was the judge's reliance on case law involving restrictions on commercial speech related to advertising alcohol and tobacco to minors because, she argued, these are illegal to sell to minors whereas minors are allowed to buy and possess firearms under adult supervision.

Junior Sports was forced to end all distribution of Junior Shooters magazine in California and has placed warnings on its website and our magazine covers to deter youth in California from entering the site and consuming advertising, marketing, and other communications promoting the use and possession of firearm related products, according to court filings.

Deputy Attorney General Kevin Kelly, representing the state, argued at Monday's hearing that amendments to the prohibition last month have removed any ambiguity that the statute only addresses commercial speech and nothing beyond that. The statute isn't regulating communications related to the use of firearms by minors as the plaintiffs suggest, according to Kelly.

"It regulates marketing and advertising communications of firearm-related products only," Kelly said. "The constitutionality of minor possession of firearm isn't at issue in this case."

Junior Sports and co-plaintiffs California Youth Shooting Sports Association, Redlands California Youth Clay Shooting Sports and the California Rifle & Pistol Association have claimed the law unconstitutionally restricts them from promoting and hosting competitive clay and target shooting events and firearm safety courses, as their programs “regularly involve signage, flyers, discussions, branded merchandise and giveaways, and/or other communications depicting minors enjoying or otherwise encouraging minors to enjoy their Second Amendment right to possess and use lawful firearms for lawful purposes."

“This law is a clear First Amendment violation of speech and assembly. It’s really an attempt to wipe out the next generation of hunters and shooters,” California Rifle and Pistol Association president and general counsel Chuck Michel has said in a statement. “Politicians in Sacramento are not even trying to hide their disdain for the ‘gun culture,’ which they neither understand nor support. They want to wipe it out.”

The plaintiffs also contend the law is overly broad and unequally applied, as it restricts the direct marketing of guns to minors but does not appear to prohibit the film, TV, and video game industries from featuring guns as entertainment.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Loading
Loading...