A federal appeals court Wednesday ruled against a California law banning certain gun advertisements.
The California law prohibits firearm advertisements that could be construed as “designed, intended or reasonably appears attractive to minors.” But since minors can’t purchase firearms, and California already takes steps to prevent youth gun violence, the laws serves the purpose of banning “truthful” gun advertisements in a sweeping and “extensive” manner, according to the ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“There is no evidence in the record that a minor in California has ever unlawfully bought a gun, let alone because of an ad,” 9th Circuit Judge Kenneth Lee wrote in the decision. “Nor has the state produced any evidence that truthful ads about lawful uses of guns … encourage illegal or violent gun use among minors.
“California’s law is also more extensive than necessary, as it sweeps in truthful ads about lawful use of firearms for adults and minors alike. For instance, an advertisement directed at adults featuring a camouflage skin on a firearm might be illegal because minors may be attracted to it,” Lee wrote.
Lee’s opinion was shared by fellow 9th Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke, who noted that the legislation is part of an effort by California to shape views on guns. VanDyke specifically went after the California Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, accusing them of targeting speech they disagree with.
“California wants to legislate views about firearms,” VanDyke wrote. “California has thus singled out a particular message it does not like and prohibited its proliferation. Its intent to stamp out this speech is evident from the record. And it crafted a targeted legislative scheme to get the job done.”
“The First Amendment demands more than good intentions and wishful thinking to warrant the government’s muzzling of speech,” Lee wrote.
Newsom did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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