September 13, 2023

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation has scored an important First Amendment victory before a federal appeals court panel in San Francisco which unanimously reversed a lower court’s denial of a preliminary injunction in a challenge of California’s law prohibiting advertising of firearms products in a way that may appeal to minors.

At issue is California Business and Professions Code § 22949.80, which prohibits advertising of any “firearm-related product in a manner that is designed, intended, or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.”

Writing for the three-judge panel, District Judge Kenneth K. Lee noted, “California has many tools to address unlawful firearm use and violence among the state’s youth. But it cannot ban truthful ads about lawful firearm use among adults and minors unless it can show that such an intrusion into the First Amendment will significantly further the state’s interest in curtailing unlawful and violent use of firearms by minors.

“But given that California allows minors to use firearms under adult supervision for hunting, shooting, and other lawful activities,” he continued, “California’s law does not significantly advance its purported goals and is more extensive than necessary. In sum, we hold that (the statute) is likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment…”

Elsewhere, the judge observed, “In short, there are good reasons to believe the First Amendment subjects viewpoint-discriminatory commercial speech restrictions to strict scrutiny. “

“Just because politicians in California don’t agree with our pro-gun viewpoint, they have no right to gag us,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb.

“California has some of the strictest gun laws in the country regulating the exercise of the Second Amendment,” added SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut, “but this case shows how the state is determined to regulate the First Amendment as well. Thankfully, the appeals court has drawn the line.”SAF was joined by Junior Sports Magazines, Inc., the California Youth Shooting Sports Association, Redlands California Youth Clay Shooting Sports, California Rifle & Pistol Association, the CRPA Foundation, Gun Owners of California, and Raymond Brown. They are represented by attorneys Anna M. Barvir and Carl D. Michel of Long Beach, Calif., and Donald Kilmer of Caldwell, Idaho. The case is known as Junior Sports Magazines v. Bonta.