California bill targets First Amendment rights of Second Amendment supporters

(New York State Public High School Athletic Association via AP)

Buying your kid a Browning t-shirt could soon be impossible, at least if you live in California. Democrat Assembly member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan has introduced a bill that is starting to get some attention in the state legislature, and it poses a clear threat to the First Amendment rights of Second Amendment supporters.

In Bauer-Kahan’s view, AB 2571 “seeks to restrict the malicious and manipulative firearms marketing geared towards children and youth,” but a perusal of the text shows her real aim is to crack down on parents who aim to educate their kids about safe and responsible gun ownership.

According to the current language of the measure, the proposed law would “prohibit a person or entity that publishes materials directed to minors in this state in any medium from marketing or advertising firearms in that material, as specified, and would prohibit a person or entity that publishes a marketing or advertising communication from publishing or disseminating marketing or advertising for firearms that is attractive to minors, as specified.”

What makes a particular communication “attractive to minors”? The bill is open-ended, but includes things like using cartoon characters to promote firearms or firearms products; offering firearm brand name merchandise, such as hats, t-shirts, or stuffed animals, for minors; or even offering firearms or firearms accessories with colors or designs that are specifically designed to appeal to minors.
Violations of the law could result in a $25,000 fine, which is clearly an attempt to chill pro-Second Amendment speech.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Mark Oliva tells Bearing Arms that it’s clear that state lawmakers “aren’t satisfied” with curtailing Second Amendment rights and now trying to infringe on the First Amendment as well.

“Commercial speech is still protected speech,” says Oliva, adding, “California’s bought-and-paid for gun control politicians might find it disagreeable that parents actually teach their children safe and responsible firearm ownership, but that is a reality, albeit one they are attempting to erase. Advertising images of parents and youths hunting together would be illegal. Youth hunting clothing branded with firearm and ammunition maker logos would be banned. The bill authors know this is a clear violation of First Amendment rights, but they give no consideration to fundamental rights when it comes to advancing a gun control agenda.”

Why would they, honestly? Most California Democrats don’t view the Second Amendment as a fundamental right that must be protected. At best they see it as an anachronism that has no place in 21st Century America, and far too many of them see our right to keep and bear arms as an evil that must be eradicated. They don’t see AB 2571 as the censorious pile of rat droppings that it is. No, they honestly believe they’re protecting innocent children from the evil and twisted firearms industry.. not to mention the deplorable gun-owning dupes those kids might have as parents.

Here’s my question for Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and other backers of this bill: even if gun companies were marketing their products to minors (which I don’t think is actually the case), shouldn’t all of the gun control laws on the books in California prevent minors from getting their hands on a gun? I mean, minors can’t legally purchase firearms or ammunition in the state, and there are background check requirements for all gun transfers and ammunition purchases. If California’s gun control laws work as well as Democrats say they do, then why do they believe this bill is necessary?

Sadly, I know the answer. This legislation isn’t about preventing minors from illegally acquiring firearms. It’s about demonizing the firearms industry.

I would love to say that this bill is going nowhere, but it already has the backing of Gov. Gavin Newsom and appears to be gaining some traction in the state Assembly, where it was referred to the Judiciary Committee on Monday. The time for California gun owners to speak out is now. I don’t know that even a wave of opposition from gun owners across the state will be enough to derail the bill in the legislature, but it’s the first step in what’s likely to be a long campaign to defend our First Amendment right to support the Second Amendment.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET