Gun Rights Groups Challenge California Ban on Marketing Firearms to Children

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
July 9, 2022 Updated: July 9, 2022

A coalition of gun rights groups on July 8 sued California over a law that bars stores and others from marketing guns to minors.

The law “violates Plaintiffs’ right to engage in free speech” and “their right to equal protection,” the Second Amendment Foundation, Junior Sports Magazines, and other groups said in the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in central California.

The law says that “a firearm industry member” is prohibited “from advertising or marketing any firearm-related product, as defined, in a manner that is designed, intended, or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.”

It enables fines of $25,000 for each violation, and also authorizes a person harmed by a violation to sue the violator.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed the legislation on July 1, about a week after the U.S. Supreme Court found New York’s strict gun permit regime unconstitutional.

“As the Supreme Court rolls back important gun safety protections and states across the country treat gun violence as inevitable, California is doubling down on commonsense gun safety measures that save lives,” Newsom said during the bill signing ceremony.

Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said that “California has some of the strongest gun laws in the country and it is unconscionable that we still allow advertising weapons of war to our children.”

“Our kids have a right to live long, happy lives, free of gun violence,” she added.

‘Discriminatory’

But the new law violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment by infringing on rights to free speech, the new suit alleges.

“The First Amendment protects commercial speech that promotes legal products and services,” Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said in a statement. “You simply cannot single out people engaged in a legal business enterprise and forbid them from advertising or promoting their products just because you don’t like them. That’s what this case is all about.”

Due to the law also violating free speech rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, California Attorney General Rob Bonta may have to abandon defending and enforcing the statute, the plaintiffs claimed.

A spokesperson for Bonta, though, said in a statement to news outlets that the Democrat will stand behind the law.

“We will take any and all action under the law to defend California’s commonsense gun laws,” the spokesperson said.

Plaintiffs asked the federal court to declare the law unconstitutional and permanently prevent all officials in California from enforcing it.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.