Federal Court Blocks Injunction Against California Law Banning Gun Marketing To Minors
A federal court last week denied a motion to block enforcement of a California law banning the marketing of firearms to children. The decision comes after an October ruling in Junior Sports Magazines v. Bonta also upheld the state’s ban. The law will remain in effect as the case moves through the courts.
The state law in question, California Business & Professions Code § 22949.80, prohibits any member of the firearms industry to advertise or market any firearm-related product in a way that appears to be done for minors. In Safari Club International v. Bonta, three gun advocacy organizations have argued that the law violates their First Amendment right to free speech and both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied the plaintiff’s motion to block the enforcement of the law that state legislators said was created because “the proliferation of firearms to and among minors poses a threat to the health, safety, and security of all residents of, and visitors to, this state.”
District Judge Dale Drozd’s decision applied the Supreme Court’s four-part test for the lawfulness of restrictions on commercial speech to the plaintiff’s argument.
To legally restrict commercial speech, the speech must relate to a substantial governmental interest. The court can then assess whether the restriction on speech in question speaks directly to that specific governmental interest and whether the restriction on the speech is not excessive.
In regards to the state’s interests the court concluded that California has a substantial interest in addressing the well-documented and “ever-increasing problem of gun violence involving minors.”
“Today’s decision is another victory in our fight to protect California from this epidemic of senseless gun violence,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement shortly after the decision.
“The idea of marketing dangerous weapons to kids is despicable, and I will not stand for it,” Bonta said. “Our children and families have endured enough fear and pain from endless gun violence tragedies — it’s time to end this.”