Newsom Faces Defeat in 9th Circuit Over Gun Advertising

( – California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom was dealt a blow on February 20 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit denied the state’s request to hold a rehearing in hopes of lifting a previous preliminary injunction. Back in September 2023, the Court ruled that the district court was wrong when it declined to grant a preliminary injunction that would have blocked the implementation of AB 2571.

The law was designed to prohibit firearms marketing that “appears to be attractive to minors.” However, the plaintiffs argued that their First Amendment rights were violated by the law because minors are allowed to use and possess firearms with adult supervision in California.

The law would have prohibited gun manufacturers from advertising in publications such as one of the plaintiffs in the case, Junior Sports Magazine. Judge Kenneth Lee wrote in his September 2023 opinion that the state could not “lean on gossamers of speculation to weave an evidence-free narrative” that unlawful gun use would decrease with the implementation of the new law. Further, Lee wrote that minors were already prohibited from purchasing firearms in California, noting that the state also failed to provide any evidence that gun advertisements encouraged minors to illegally or violently use guns.

Judge Lawrence VanDyke wrote that the law was “textbook viewpoint discrimination” when he discussed how it would stifle the speech of those who support allowing minors to use firearms while still allowing speech from those who oppose minor gun use. He further argued that the authors of the legislation were aiming to produce adults who would be against owning and using firearms.

The judges also made their decision based on the belief that the plaintiffs would prevail in the case. Notably, both judges were appointed to the 9th circuit during the Trump administration. In another blow to Newsom, a federal judge blocked the state’s attorney general from enforcing the Firearm Industry Responsibility Act on February 21. This law would allow gun manufacturers to be sued for selling certain weapons that California deemed more dangerous than others.

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