Gun rights group files amicus in support of challenge to California law regulating speech

Gun rights group files amicus in support of challenge to California law regulating speech
(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

California law that was born from AB 2571 chills the First Amendment. The law makes it prohibited to “advertise” firearms and related items to children. Aside from this being a massive violation in speech liberties, it’s regulating another constitutionally protected right. A legal challenge sprung up targeting the unconstitutional law, Junior Sports Magazines, Inc., et.al. v. Bonta et.al.  Last week our friends over at the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms filed an amicus brief with a few other organizations in support of the legal challenge

The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has filed an amicus brief in support of Junior Sports Magazines, Inc., in a First Amendment challenge of a California law that prohibits “advertising or marketing communication concerning any firearm-related product in a manner that is designed, intended, or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.”

The brief was filed with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. CCRKBA is joined by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership and the Second Amendment Law Center.

Junior Sports Magazines is joined in its federal lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation, California Youth Shooting Sports Association, Inc., Redlands California Youth Clay Shooting Sports, Inc., California Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., the CRPA Foundation, and Gun Owners of California, Inc., and Raymond Brown, a private citizen. SAF is the sister organization of CCRKBA, and California Rifle & Pistol is a CCRKBA affiliate.

The essence of the brief is captured in a section where a couple of other cases are quoted. Through these case citations, the core of California’s repugnancy is pointed out, and that disgusting attitude is: thou shall think the way we tell you to.

As argued by Appellants, AB 2571 is a content-based and viewpoint-based statute that restricts both commercial and noncommercial speech. The government seeks to restrict speech on a particular viewpoint—the benefits of the purchase of firearms. It is an  idea the California legislature appears to find abhorrent, but it cannot impose its will on the people. “First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.” Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234, 253 (2002). See also Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, Inc., 515 U.S. 557, 579 (1995) (“The very idea that a noncommercial speech restriction be used to produce thoughts and statements acceptable to some groups or, indeed, all people, grates on the First Amendment, for it amounts to nothing less than a proposal to limit speech in the service of orthodox expression. The Speech Clause has no more certain antithesis”). The First Amendment protects speech favoring and endorsing particular conduct, even where the conduct at issue is not permitted. See Schowengerdt v. United States, 944 F.2d 483, 489 (9th Cir. 1991) (distinguishing between the speech and conduct); BenShalom v. Marsh, 881 F.2d 454, 462 (7th Cir. 1989) (same) [emphasis added]

The Chairman for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Alan Gottlieb, explained the case, “The issue here is simple. Junior Sports Magazines publishes a magazine titled ‘Junior Shooters,’ and because that magazine accepts advertising from firearms and ammunition manufacturers and firearms retailers, and publishes stories related to recreational and competition shooting, it is prohibited by law in California.”

The amicus brief does not have to go too far down the Second Amendment rabbit hole here either, and California being what they are, has a high burden to meet in defending this drivel. Gottlieb expanded in his remarks, “The plaintiffs in this case,” he explained, “are challenging the constitutionality of California Business and Professions Code section 22949.80, which makes it unlawful for any ‘firearm industry member’ to ‘advertise, market, or arrange for placement of an advertising or marketing communication concerning any firearm-related product in a manner that is designed, intended, or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.’  It’s an outrageous restriction on free speech and freedom of the press.”

Everyone with half a brain knows what this law was intended to do. The law, besides creating general headaches in the Second Amendment community, which we know California relishes the thought of, but really it’s designed to deter people from pushing anything shooting sports related to youth. By cutting off a generation or two further from firearms and anything gun related, the overlords in the Golden State think it’ll aid in the eradication of support for the civil liberty.

As noted in the 35-page amicus brief, the law “is anathema to the First Amendment. It fails to serve its intended purpose; all it does is restrain speech that is protected under the Constitution. The Court should reverse the order…and declare the statute unconstitutional.”

Thankfully these groups stepped up to render aid to Junior Sports Magazines, Inc. in their quest to topple down the unconstitutional law. With a new legislative season starting, the patriots in California, and across the nation, have their work cut out for them.