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‘Muzzling Of Speech’: Federal Court Rules Against California Gun Advertising Law

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a California law on Wednesday that banned certain gun advertisements.

The California law prohibits firearm advertisements that could be construed as “designed, intended or reasonably appears attractive to minors.” But as minors cannot purchase firearms, and California already takes steps to prevent youth gun violence, the law is serving the purpose of banning “truthful” gun advertisements in a sweeping and “extensive” manner, according to the ruling.

“There is no evidence in the record that a minor in California has ever unlawfully bought a gun, let alone because of an ad,” wrote Ninth Circuit Judge Kenneth Lee in the ruling. “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 Ninth Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke, who noted that the legislation is part of an effort by California to shape people’s views on guns, according to the ruling. VanDyke specifically went after the California Legislature and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and accused them of targeting speech they disagree with.

“California wants to legislate views about firearms,” VanDyke wrote in the ruling. “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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