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9th Circuit Puts Final Nail In Cali Advertising Ban Coffin—Maybe


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The case involving California’s unconstitutional law banning firearms advertisements that “may be attractive to minors” might finally be coming to an end.

Last October, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case Safari Club International v. Bonta that the law, passed in June 2022 by the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, to be unconstitutional. But, as bureaucrats are wont to do, state officials appealed the ruling to the full 9th Circuit.

On Feb. 20, the court overwhelmingly rejected the request to have the full court consider the case. In fact, none of the judges on the court even requested that the court take a vote on the state’s petition to rehear it.

At odds is the law passed ostensibly to protect kids from firearms advertising. But the law was so overly broad that, according to NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, it even effectively banned advertising youth hunter education programs.

Safari Club International, along with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation and So Cal Top Guns youth shooting organization, sued California to challenge the law that prohibits “firearm industry members” from advertising the use of firearms in a way that is “designed, intended, or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.” SCI’s suit challenged the law as unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California refused to file an injunction against the law back in January 2023, leaving the restriction in place. At the time, the ruling prompted California Attorney General Rob Bonta to gloat about the victory.

“Today’s decision is another victory in our fight to protect California from this epidemic of senseless gun violence,” Bonta said in a press release following the ruling. “The idea of marketing dangerous weapons to kids is despicable, and I will not stand for it. Our children and families have endured enough fear and pain from endless gun violence tragedies—it’s time to end this. My office will continue fighting with every tool we have at our disposal to defend our state’s lifesaving gun safety laws.”

With the 9th Circuit now refusing to hear the case en banc, Bonta likely isn’t gloating any more. Unless the state chooses to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, where victory for Bonta and Newsom is unlikely, the case will be remanded to the district court to enter the preliminary injunction.

 

 

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