The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit temporarily blocked a California law on Wednesday that bans firearm advertising that is “attractive to minors.” The case is an appeal from the US District Court for the Central District of California, which denied Junior Sports Magazines, Inc. and several gun rights groups’ motion to block implementation of the California law.
Circuit Judge Kenneth K. Lee authored the opinion for the three-judge panel, which found in favor of the gun rights groups. Lee ruled that the law likely violates the US Constitution’s First Amendment because it bans truthful and lawful advertising and does not materially or directly further a substantial government interest. Lee noted that California has a substantial interest in reducing gun violence and minors’ unlawful use of firearms. However, Lee also found that, under California law, minors can possess and use firearms for hunting and other lawful activities under adult supervision. Thus, Lee concluded that the law likely violates the First Amendment because it regulates speech that concerns lawful activity and is not misleading.
The Wednesday decision reversed the district court’s denial of the gun rights groups’ motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded the case for further proceedings.
Additionally, Lee found that the California law is more extensive than necessary because it affects truthful advertisements for both minors and adults. He also noted that there was “no evidence” in the record that a minor in California has ever unlawfully bought a gun, let alone done so because of an advertisement.
The gun rights groups and Junior Sports Magazines, Inc. sued the California Attorney General in his official capacity in 2022 after Governor Gavin Newsom signed the law into effect.