The government of California has driven a youth shooting sports league out of the state.
The California State High School Clay Target League (CASHCTL) folded last week following passage of Assembly Bill 2571, which imposes $25,000 civil fines on “firearm industry members” advertising “any firearms-related product” in a way that could be seen as “appealing to minors.” The statewide league, which operated under the nonprofit USA Clay Target League, has removed everything on the site except a message saying it was “forced by law to suspend all operations.”
“As a school-based activity serving students from 6th-12th grade, these provisions serve to outlaw the very name and existence of the California State High School Clay Target League,” the group’s website states.
The only thing the website has now is a one-page plea for restoring the league, with quotes from John Nelson, president of the league.
“The League is the safest sport in high school,” Nelson said. “Over 1,500 schools across the nation have approved our program. Hundreds of thousands of students have participated, and there has never been an accident or injury.”
A coalition of gun-rights groups has already filed suit against the law, arguing it violates the First and Second Amendments since it restricts speech by “members of the firearm industry.” CASHCTL’s message on the website says the group is watching the court challenge and “is eager to return to providing California’s high schools and their students the safest and fastest-growing sport in America.”
Governor Gavin Newsom (D.) signed the law at the end of June and justified it by citing WEE1 Tactical’s marketing of the “JR-15,” a small .22 caliber rifle modeled after the AR-15. The AR-15 has long been the top target of gun-control groups, and Democrats are currently making a federal push to ban it and other guns they define as “assault weapons.”
The gun-control package Newsom signed included a range of other measures, such as a “ghost gun” ban, as part of a Democratic effort to respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. That ruling overturned subjective concealed-carry permitting rules, but California and other blue states have sought out many other ways to restrict guns—and AB 2571 goes beyond guns to restrict speech.
The implications for shooting sports are immense. The USA is a perennial contender in shooting sports at the Olympics, so this legal crackdown on any gun-related activities “appealing to minors” in the largest state is a blow to the sport nationwide. Beyond youth competition, the ban could restrict all sorts of youth shooting and stunt gun ownership in America.
The CASHCTL, whose closing was first reported by Guns.com, is not the only youth shooting group that is facing potential legal trouble due to the ban. The Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation’s website now greets visitors with a warning.
“NOTICE FOR CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS: Due to the passage of California Assembly Bill 2571 related to the advertising or marketing of firearms and firearm related products, the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation has limited communication with the state of California,” the message read. “The information on this website is not intended for minor audiences in California. If you are a minor in California, please do not continue to this website.”
Nelson said the law deprives young Californians of the ability to participate in a safe, skills-based competition enjoyed by Americans in every other state.
“This misguided new law is detrimental to law-abiding and very responsible students from across California as it will prohibit students from representing their high schools by participating in this safe and fun school-approved activity,” Nelson said. “Preventing participation, stripping high schools of their teams, and robbing students of opportunities for college scholarships hardly seems reasonable or common sense.”
Gun-rights groups have asked for a preliminary injunction against the law to block enforcement while their case against it is considered.