Second Amendment advocates claim California is violating the First Amendment.
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) filed a federal lawsuit Friday against the state’s ban on advertising “any firearm-related product in a manner that is designed, intended, or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors” by any “firearm industry member.” SAF and several other gun-rights proponents filed for declaratory and injunctive relief against California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D.), charging that Assembly Bill 2571, signed last month by Governor Gavin Newsom (D.), is unconstitutional. The suit argues that the law violates the First Amendment by restricting lawful speech and assembly as well as the 14th Amendment by targeting the firearm industry.
“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.” SAF founder Alan Gottlieb said in a statement. “That’s what this case is all about.”
The suit notes that the law does not restrict gun-control groups from advertising, even overtly, towards children. Instead, the law only targets pro-gun speech and therefore, the plaintiffs argue, the law violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. The outcome of the case will help determine how far states can go in limiting gun advertisements.
Joining the lawsuit are several other gun-rights groups, including the NRA-affiliated California Rifle and Pistol Association, and two private citizens.
According to the lawsuit, the policy “imposes a content- and speaker-based restriction on protected speech that is viewpoint discriminatory, that serves no legitimate government interest (directly or indirectly), and that is both facially overbroad and far more extensive than necessary to achieve any purported interest.”
After signing the law, Newsom celebrated it for how it “targets the gun lobby and manufacturers that are preying on our children.” And Bonta’s office promised to defend the law in court.
“We will take any and all action under the law to defend California’s commonsense gun laws,” Bonta’s spokesperson said Friday in response to the lawsuit.
This lawsuit is just the latest court battle over the constitutionality of gun-control measures in deep-blue states. In the landmark Bruen decision last month, the Supreme Court overturned New York’s “proper cause” standard for issuing gun carry permits, forcing the Empire State as well as a half-dozen others, including California, to respond.
While Attorney General Bonta sent a notice to law enforcement that carry permits “no longer require proof of good cause,” California is taking other steps to beef up their gun-control regime, such as prohibitions on carry in a wide range of “sensitive places.” Newsom also signed a ban on “ghost guns” and framed these new laws as a response to the Court’s ruling.
“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 in a statement.
SAF’s Gottlieb had a different description of the potential effect of California’s law.
“It’s clearly a double standard codified into law that cannot be allowed to stand,” Gottlieb said.