MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Flashy Storefront Gun Ads Are Protected by the First Amendment, Says California Judge

Sen. Kamala Harris tried to limit the storefront speech of firearms sellers as California attorney general.

|||Brandon Bourdages/Dreamstime.comBrandon Bourdages/Dreamstime.comA California judge ruled on Monday that certain firearms advertising regulations, which were supported by the state's attorney general office under both current Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his predecessor, Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), violated the First Amendment.

For the past 95 years, firearms dealers in the state of California were prevented from displaying ads in their own storefronts that were visible from the outside. The 1923 law was passed on the grounds that seeing a picture of a gun might encourage impulsive purchases by people with suicidal or criminal intentions.

Judge Troy L. Nunley of the U.S. Eastern District of California, who was appointed by President Obama, ruled in Tracy Rifle and Pistol LLC et al v Harris et al that the law violated the First Amendment's free speech protections.

Nunley writes that the law was too broad and did not take into account diverse personality traits among adults. He wrote, "The government may not restrict speech that persuades adults, who are neither criminals nor suffer from mental illness, from purchasing a legal and constitutionally-protected product, merely because it distrusts their personality trait and the decisions that personality trait may lead them to make later down the road."

Nunley also wrote that the law's restrictions were inconsistent, pointing out that it allowed for gun shops to display "a large neon sign reading 'GUNS GUNS GUNS' or a 15-foot depiction of a modern sporting rifle." It also allowed dealers to run print and radio ads.

California's advertising regulations have gone far beyond guns. The cannabis industry has faced numerous advertising hurdles, most recently a 2017 law that seeks to ban "dispensary-branded swag, including hats, t-shirts, and hoodies bearing a dispensary's name or logo."

Photo Credit: Brandon Bourdages/Dreamstime.com

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    MAGA!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The 1923 law was passed on the grounds that seeing a picture of a gun might encourage impulsive purchases by people with suicidal or criminal intentions.

    For a hundred years people have been whipped into a frenzied orgy of criminality by the mere photographic representation of undesirable items.

  • Red Tony||

    In fairness, have you seen the response Crusty's penis evokes? Common-sense dick-pic control is clearly needed in that instance.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Nobody wants to see anything relating to that 'penis'.

  • sarcasmic||

    Signs are magic. A sign for a gun shop will turn a sweet little old lady into a mass murderer. Or a picture of a pot leaf will turn that lady into a murderous stoner. But at least we have magical Gun Free Zone signs on schools to protect us from sweet little old ladies turned bad by magical advertisement signs.

  • Red Tony||

    The thing you're not accounting for is that California contains Pasadena, and we all know what little old ladies from Pasadena are like.

  • Red Tony||

    Aw, man, I SF'd the link!

    Also, who and what is SF? I assumed it was a reference to Sevo and his hometown, but if I'm wrong, please correct.

  • sarcasmic||

    SugarFree'd

  • Muzzled Woodchipper||

    Is SF still around.

    I'll afmit I've been most absent the last couple of years, but I can't teally remember seeing him I a while.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>murderous stoner

    several minutes of laughter from this.

  • Rich||

    A California judge ruled on Monday that certain firearms advertising regulations, which were supported by the state's attorney general office under both current Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his predecessor, Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), violated the First Amendment.

    So Becarra and Harris lose their pensions and are banned from government employment, right? RIGHT?!

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    My opinion of Kamala Harris just keeps improving. Not only did she deliver a terrific performance in the Kavanaugh hearings, she's also on the right side of history with respect to common sense gun safety.

    #LibertariansForHarris
    #LibertariansForGunSense
    #BanAssaultWeapons

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Nitpick

    "A California judge ruled on Monday..."

    I think this should read "Afederal judge in California", to me at least, "A California judge" implies a state judge.

  • JeremyR||

    The right to buy weapons is the right to be free

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online