Youth shooting leagues suspended thanks to California gun control law

dsjones / Pixabay

This isn’t an unforeseen consequence of one of the state’s latest gun control measures. AB 2571 was meant to destroy youth shooting sports in the state, and just a few weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law it’s already having its intended impact. Several youth shooting leagues in the state, including those affiliated with the USA Clay Target League, have suspended their operations over fears that even hosting a high school trap shoot could lead to tens of thousands of dollars in civil fines.

Over at Reason, J.D. Tuccille notes the law was billed as a measure prohibiting gun companies from marketing to minors, which in itself raises First Amendment concerns, but Second Amendment groups like the California Rifle & Pistol Association were warning that the legislation was really intended to choke off support (and even knowledge) for the right to keep and bear arms with future generations.

“California has some of the strongest gun laws in the country and it is unconscionable that we still allow advertising weapons of war to our children,” Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D–Orinda) huffed in a press release when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the measure into law on July 1.

But the actual law goes well beyond restricting targeted advertising. Its language could easily be construed to encompass youth shooting teams, firearms publications, and activist organizations. Arguably, A Christmas Story might not pass muster over young Ralphie’s hankering for a Red Ryder BB gun. That’s why legislators were warned by legal experts that their bill didn’t just tread into territory protected by the First Amendment, it stomped all over that ground.

“A gun magazine publisher, for instance—or a gun advocacy group that publishes a magazine—would likely be covered as a ‘firearm industry member,’ because it was formed to advocate for use or ownership of guns, might endorse specific products in product reviews, and might carry advertising for guns,” cautioned UCLA’s Eugene Volokh in testimony that dubbed the measure “unconstitutional.”

That’s why the publisher of Junior Shooters magazine is suing the state of California over AB 2571, along with several youth shooting clubs and 2A groups including CRPA, Gun Owners of California, and the Second Amendment Foundation. This should be a legal slam dunk, even in California, but Tuccille warns that we’re likely to see more of these unconstitutional intrusions as the gun control lobby lashes out in response to the Bruen decision recently delivered by the Supreme Court.
Wounded animals are dangerous, of course, and that’s what anti-gun authoritarians resemble at the moment. With dwindling means to impose their will, and their prey escaping their grasp, anti-gunners are lashing out at more people and freedoms than ever before. They’re going down to defeat, but they’ll take some victims with them.
That’s a pretty solid analogy, though I’m not as sanguine as Tuccille is about the “dwindling means” of anti-gun activists. For one thing, they have deep pockets and plenty of resources, including their own in-house law firms at organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords. They might not have the law on their side, but they have lots of lawyers who can drag out these legal battles over our Second (and First) Amendment rights. They have anti-gun politicians who are fine with ignoring the Constitution and the rulings from the Supreme Court, and they have a plethora of allies in the media who will happily repeat their anti-2A talking points to influence the court of public opinion.
I do believe that five years from now our Second Amendment rights are going to be stronger and more secure than they are now, but Tuccille is right that there will be victims between now and then. We’re not just talking about teens forced to give up their sport because of the hoplophobia of California politicians either, as bad as that is. The goal of the gun control lobby is to restrict the right to keep and bear arms as much as they possibly can, and in anti-gun states where their ideology holds sway there are undoubtably going to be some law-abiding citizens who need to exercise their right to armed self-defense but will be unable to do so because of the bureaucratic red tape and unconstitutional infringements erected in the name of “commonsense” gun control.