California Ban on Handgun Ads at Gun Stores Violates First Amendment

So a federal judge just held.


Cal. Civil Code § 26820 (which was first enacted 1923, but is still being enforced today) provides,

No handgun or imitation handgun, or placard advertising the sale or other transfer thereof, shall be displayed in any part of [a store that sells handguns] where it can readily be seen from the outside.

Judge Troy Nunley held yesterday, in Tracy Rifle & Pistol, LLC v. Harris, that the statute violates the First Amendment (in a case in which I have been consulting on the plaintiffs' side). The court summarized the government's argument this way:

The Government argues that § 26820 directly advances its "interest in decreasing handgun suicides because the law inhibits handgun purchases by people with impulsive personality traits, who, as a group, are at a higher risk for suicide than the population in general." The Government argues its objective of preventing handgun suicides is achieved in two steps. "First, the advertisements restricted by section 26820 inhibit purchases by people with impulsive personality traits, a conclusion supported by Professor Gundlach's expert report." "[S]econd, people with impulsive personality traits are at a higher risk for committing suicide, a conclusion supported by Professor Mann's expert report." The Government argues suicide is the leading cause of death for purchasers in the year after a handgun purchase, thus California's ten-day waiting period is not entirely effective. In fact, according to the Government's expert, "[g]uns used for suicide are bought a mean of 11 years before the suicide."

The Government's argument that § 26820 directly advances its interest in handgun crime follows a similar vein—advertisements restricted by § 26820 tend to induce purchase by people with impulsive personality traits, and impulsive people are more likely to engage in crime. Thus, the Government's theory is essentially that an impulsive person will see a handgun sign outside a store, will impulsively buy the gun (although the Government does not identify a specific purpose for the purchase), and then, at some unspecified future time likely years later, the person's impulsive temperament will lead him to impulsively misuse the handgun that he bought in response to seeing the sign.

The Government claims § 26820 directly advances both its interests [in preventing handgun suicide and preventing handgun crime] because it inhibits people with "impulsive personality traits" from purchasing a handgun in the first place. However, the Supreme Court has rejected this highly paternalistic approach to limiting speech, holding that the Government may not "achieve its policy objectives through the indirect means of restraining certain speech by certain speakers." The Supreme Court has reiterated that the Government cannot justify content-burdens on speech based on the "fear that people would make bad decisions if given truthful information."

But this justification, the court held, was inconsistent in four separate but related ways with the so-called Central Hudson test for the constitutionality of restrictions on "commercial speech" (i.e., commercial advertising).

[1.] The law impermissibly tried to restrict speech for fear of what it will persuade listeners to do:

"Precisely because bans against truthful, nonmisleading commercial speech rarely seek to protect consumers from either deception or overreaching, they usually rest solely on the offensive assumption that the public will respond 'irrationally' to the truth." For this reason, "[t]he First Amendment directs us to be especially skeptical of regulations that seek to keep people in the dark for what the government perceives to be their own good." The Government "may not seek to remove a popular but disfavored product from the marketplace by prohibiting truthful, nonmisleading advertisements that contain impressive endorsements or catchy jingles." That the Government "finds expression too persuasive does not permit it to quiet the speech or to burden its messengers."

Yet, this is exactly what the Government seeks to do. The Government aims to stop a group of law-abiding adults with the shared personality trait of "impulsiveness" from making what it sees the bad decision of purchasing a handgun. The Government believes if it can inhibit such persons from making the initial decision to purchase a handgun, it will save them from harming themselves or others with the handgun at some later date, likely years from the initial purchase. However, 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.

Moreover, in the effort to restrict impulsive individuals from purchasing handguns, the Government has restricted speech to all adults, irrespective of whether they have this personality trait. Therefore, the Government impermissibly seeks to achieve its goals through the indirect means of restricting certain speech by certain speakers based on the fear that a certain subset of the population with a particular personality trait could potentially make what the Government contends is a bad decision.

[2.] The court also held that the law, which limited itself to ads for handguns, and only those that were on store premises, was unconstitutionally underinclusive:

"[U]nderinclusivity is relevant to Central Hudson's direct advancement prong because it 'may diminish the credibility of the government's rationale for restricting speech in the first place.'" For example, in Pitt News v. Pappert (3d Cir. 2004), the Third Circuit struck down a law restricting alcohol advertising in publications directly targeted to college students. The Court held that the law "applie[d] only to advertising in a very narrow sector of the media," and the state failed to show that "eliminating ads in [a] narrow sector [of the media] will do any good" because students "will still be exposed to a torrent of beer ads on television and the radio, and they will still see alcoholic beverage ads in other publications," including other publications displayed on campus. The Ninth Circuit recently addressed a similar issue in Retail Digital Network, LLC v. Prieto (9th Cir. 2017), holding that restricting only a "small portion" of alcohol advertising visible to consumers could not directly and materially advance the government's purported interest in promoting temperance.

The Government offers no meaningful distinction between this case and Pitt News. Plaintiffs could display a large neon sign reading "GUNS GUNS GUNS" or a 15-foot depiction of a modern sporting rifle, and this would be permissible. Moreover, Plaintiffs are free to advertise through any other channels of communication. This includes a print advertisement with a map to the store, a billboard with directions to the store (which could be blocks away), or a radio jingle that makes it easy to find the store. The underinclusivity of this law gravely diminishes the credibility of the Government's rationale.

[3.] The court held that the government hadn't proved that the law sufficiently advanced the government interests in any event:

More fundamentally, however, the Government has not demonstrated that § 26820 would have any effect on handgun suicide or violence. The Government's first expert, Professor Gregory T. Gundlach, opines that "it is reasonable to conclude that the display of a handgun or imitation handgun or placard advertising the sale or other transfer thereof, in any part of the premises of a California licensed handgun seller, that can be readily seen from the outside, contributes in a positive way to the impulsive purchase of handguns." Professor Gundlach defines an "impulsive purchase" as "an unplanned and sudden buying act, in response to subjective or external stimuli, accompanied by a powerful and persistent urge." According to Professor Gundlach, "[i]mpulse buying is distinguished from other forms of buying based on the fact that it is primarily driven by strong hedonic temptations of immediate satisfaction and improved mood with little or no regard for consequences."

In reaching his conclusion, Professor Gundlach relies on studies of impulsive purchases generally. The question, however, is not whether advertising restrictions can generally reduce impulsive purchases, but rather whether § 26820 directly and materially advances the Government's interest in reducing handgun purchases among impulsive people and in turn the risk of handgun suicide or crime.

The little evidence Professor Gundlach relies on to tie impulsive purchases to handguns includes a remark by a firearm manufacturer's executive during an earnings call, a passing mention in an industry publication, and two commenters on firearms blogs. This evidence is trivial. Notably, it is unclear whether the use of the word "impulse" in any of these scenarios refers to the same "impulse" referred to by Professor Gundlach. Further, a study Professor Gundlach relies on explains that firearms fall into a product category least likely to involve impulse purchasing. See Clinton Amos et al., A Meta-Analysis of Consumer Impulse Buying, 31 J. Retailing & Consumer Servs. 86 (2014) ("An examination of product type did produce substantial difference as impulse buying was greater for fashion merchandise than supermarket purchases and general merchandise.").

Handguns are substantially different from most purchases, both in terms of product type and cost. However, none of the studies Professor Gundlach relies on specifically address the impact of advertising on impulse purchases of handguns, let alone the impact specifically caused by the signage prohibited by § 26820. Nor does Professor Gundlach explain why the impulse purchases of handguns would be similar to other products. He similarly fails to address whether California handgun purchase regulations, such as the ten-day waiting period or required firearms law and safety test, would have an impact on impulsive handgun purchases. Thus, Professor Gundlach's data simply does not reveal that § 26820 reduces impulsive handgun purchases, let alone to a material degree.

The Government does not satisfy its burden of materiality on a content-based commercial speech restriction by procuring an expert who, after citing some statistics and studies not directly related to the issue at hand, merely finds it "reasonable to conclude" that a statute does what the Government says it does and fails to express any opinion regarding the magnitude of this conclusion. See 44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island (1996) (plurality opinion) (holding the government failed to meet the direct advancement prong when it "presented no evidence to suggest that its speech prohibition [would] significantly reduce marketwide consumption" of alcohol).

At best, Professor Gundlach's opinion provides "only ineffective or remote support for the government's purpose," which, of course, is not enough under Central Hudson. Rather, the Government "must demonstrate that the harms it recites are real and that its restriction will in fact alleviate them to a material degree." Thus, the Government fails to demonstrate § 26820 affects impulsive handgun purchases to a material degree.

The Government next relies on the opinion of Professor J. John Mann to demonstrate that "people with impulsive personality traits are at a higher risk for committing suicide." Particularly, "Professor Mann offers the opinion that people with impulsive personality traits are more likely to make a suicide attempt and that having a handgun in the home further increases the risk that they will." Professor Mann goes on to explain that "[s]uicidal behavior is generally impulsive and 70% of suicide attempters act less than one hour after deciding to kill themselves."

Professor Mann did not study the effect of § 26820 on impulsive handgun purchases, but rather assumes that if the invalidation of § 26820 would result in an increase in handgun purchases by people with impulsive personality traits, if § 26820 were invalidated, "it would result in more handgun suicides in direct proportion to the increase in handgun purchases by a vulnerable subgroup of the general population characterized by more pronounced impulsive personality traits." The Government also cites several studies that found handgun purchases are associated with an increased risk of suicide for the purchaser and members of the purchaser's household.

Both Professor Mann's report and the studies the Government cite conclude that impulsive personality traits increase the risk of suicide or are associated with suicide…. [But e]ven if these conclusions are valid, they both fail to demonstrate to any degree whether people who impulsively purchase handguns, as opposed to those who non-impulsively purchase handguns or obtain a handgun through means other than store purchase, commit suicide with that handgun. In other words, the Government fails to make the link that impulsive handgun purchases result in impulsive handgun suicides….

Ultimately, the Government fails to show that § 26820 has any direct or material effect on reducing handgun suicides because it fails to bridge the gap between those who impulsively purchase handguns and those who impulsively commit suicide with a handgun. Instead, the Government relies on mere speculation and conjecture. Accordingly, the Government fails to demonstrate that an impulsive handgun purchase results in an impulsive handgun suicide, i.e., that an impulsive handgun purchase is actually a "bad decision."

Although the bulk of the Government's argument focuses on suicide, the Government still maintains, as it did in the preliminary injunction stage, that § 26820 also directly advances California's interest in reducing handgun crimes. The Government still, however, has not produced evidence that § 26820 reduces impulsive handgun purchases and that this reduction in turn leads to less impulsive handgun crime, beyond what California's ten-day waiting period already provides. In the absence of evidence and with no common-sense relation, the Government has not met its burden of demonstrating that § 26820 directly and materially advances that interest. In sum, the Government fails to show that § 26820 has any effect on handgun suicide or crime.

[4.] Finally, the court held that the law was also invalid because the government couldn't "demonstrate that the challenged statute 'is no more extensive than necessary to further" the Government's interests'":

"[I]f the First Amendment means anything, it means that regulating speech must be a last—not first—resort." "[I]f the Government could achieve its interests in a manner that does not restrict speech, or that restricts less speech, the Government must do so." … The Government can achieve its interests not only through the creation of new laws, but also through the enforcement of existing laws.

[In this case], the Government has "various other laws at its disposal that would allow it to achieve its stated interests while burdening little or no speech." For example, California has several laws that, if enforced, further its substantial interest in reducing handgun suicide and crime without restricting speech. The most notable of these laws imposes a ten-day waiting period before a purchaser can receive a gun. This law, unlike § 26820, is precisely related to the Government's interests in preventing handgun suicide and violence as it "provides time not only for background checks, but for the purchaser to reflect on what he or she is doing, and, perhaps, for second thoughts that might prevent gun violence." Additionally, California limits purchasers to one handgun purchase within a thirty-day period, and requires the purchaser complete a firearm safety certificate program.

Unlike § 26820, which purportedly serves only to deter the impulsive purchase of a handgun, these laws act directly to deter the potential harmful consequences of handgun purchases without restricting speech. They allow purchasers not only the time to reflect on their purchases, but also provide an opportunity for purchasers to learn about gun safety. Further, to deter handgun crime, the Government has an arsenal of criminal laws it may enforce. Thus, the Government could further its asserted interests simply by enforcing these existing laws.

If the Government considers its existing safeguards inadequate to combat handgun suicide and crime, it may pass additional direct regulations within constitutionally permissible boundaries. The Government may also counteract what it views as dangerous messages with "more speech, not enforced silence." For example, the Government could run an educational campaign focused on the dangers of handguns or the consequences of impulsive decision making. Although it appears the Government has rejected this idea, it has not demonstrated why this alternative would not be more effective than § 26820.

Indeed, the Supreme Court has recognized that "educational campaigns focused on the problems [at issue] might prove to be more effective" than advertising regulations designed to decrease demand of a product. 44 Liquormart (plurality opinion). As the Government has provided no evidence directly linking § 26820 to reduced handgun suicide or crime, it is surprising the Government is so quick to dismiss other viable alternatives that may have greater impact. The Government has restricted disfavored speech without acknowledging the efficacy of policy choices that do not burden speech. Accordingly, § 26820 is more extensive than necessary.

The Government has an array of policies at its disposal to combat handgun suicide and crime. "But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table." California may not accomplish its goals by violating the First Amendment….

We expect that the state will appeal to the Ninth Circuit, though that's not clear. (The Ninth Circuit had ruled against us on an earlier appeal, after the district court denied our request for a preliminary injunction; but the Circuit did so without reaching the merits of our First Amendment argument.) Many thanks to the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, The Calguns Foundation, and Second Amendment Foundation for their support of the case, and congratulations to Bradley Benbrook and Steve Duvernay, who took the lead in drafting the motion papers. The plaintiffs also include, besides Tracy Rifle & Pistol, Sacramento Black Rifle, Ten Percent Firearms, PRK Arms, Michael Baryla, Robert Adams, Wesley Morris, and Jeffrey Mullen.

NEXT: Then-Candidate Trump's Speech at Rally Wasn't Constitutionally Unprotected "Incitement" of Violence Against Protesters

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  1. What about the impulsive purchase of rope, sleeping pills, and hotel rooms on the top floor?

  2. The Ninth Circus will reverse with a one page decision that says "because guns!"

    1. Well yeah, when you're right any means justify the ends! That said, CA, MA, NJ, NY all follow suit. Join the National Guard if you want a gun, bazookas, tanks, grenades and AR15s are of the same ilk, get a Brown Bess musket if you want to be period-conscious in 2ndA rights, but guns that can't comply with 21st Century bulletin, cartridge trace stamps and electronic GPS geofencing ownership safety can be banned. Just the facts ma'am, we make 'em up when we can remember which are facts and which are sci-fi.

      1. Yep exactly.

  3. The Government argues suicide is the leading cause of death for purchasers in the year after a handgun purchase, thus California's ten-day waiting period is not entirely effective. In fact, according to the Government's expert, "[g]uns used for suicide are bought a mean of 11 years before the suicide."

    So, the answer is that CA needs to increase to an 11 year waiting period for handgun purchases.

    1. Unless you're a politcially connected liberal in good standing.

  4. Professors Gundlach and Mann are owed a full refund by their educators.

  5. I'm glad they won, but still find it depressing that the court only held that the legislature couldn't do what it is categorically forbidden to do, because the court thought it didn't have a good reason to do it. As the saying goes, what part o "no law" don't they understand?

    Even a good reason should not prevail in the face of "no law".

    1. Agreed. Even worse, it looks like the court is endorsing a 10 day waiting period and one gun a month law as good to go.

    2. Well as a practical matter the relevant Standard on commercial speech comes from Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp (itself a descendant of a line of cases going back to Valentine).

      Essentially to overcome the required degree of scrutiny a law or policy must further a substantial government interest by means that directly advance that interest using means that are no more extensive than necessary to serve that interest (This is a slight variant on the standard intermediate scrutiny test).

      Perhaps you disagree with this precedent but lower courts are bound by it in their analysis.

      1. Yes, I disagree with this precedent, because this precedent conflicts with the language of the 1st amendment.

        The 1st amendment represents a decision on the part of the Bill of Rights' authors that laws restricting freedom of speech, or off the press, were too dangerous, too prone to abuse, to be worth any proposed gain from them.

        The judiciary's addition of a missing "unless a good reason is given" represents their decision that the the 1st amendment as written set the wrong balance.

        That's not a decision they were entitled to make.

        1. "The judiciary's addition of a missing "unless a good reason is given" represents their decision that the the 1st amendment as written set the wrong balance."

          Agreed, but that's actually an improvement over the earliest free speech/press cases.

          The decision that the "shouting fire in a crowded theater" line comes from (an criminal prosecution of the author/publisher of anti-draft leaflets) - ruled that the government can criminalize any speech for any reason without limit. Effectively making a complete nullity of the first amendment's free speech and free press clauses.

          1. That's the problem with constitutional provisions limiting the power of a government that selects the judges. You don't tend to get judges interested in enforcing them.

            Having federal judges selected by federal office holders was, IMHO, one of the key design defects of the Constitution. It built right in a mechanism for them to relieve themselves of the Constitution's restraints.

            No level of government should get to chose the judges who decide if its actions are legal. Federal judges should be chosen by states, and state judges by the voters. Bias on the part of judges is unavoidable, but it can at least be managed.

            1. But then you're giving states oversight of the federal government--which cannot be tenable either.

              States (appropriately) have their individual, parochial interests and goals--which may not be in line with federal interests.

              I think there's enough checks and balances in our federal judiciary system and don't see the need for this type of change.

              1. There are always individual, parochial interests and goals. That's unavoidable.

                But, "No man should be the judge in his own case."; Is it really better for a man, or level of government, to be in charge of selecting the judge in his own case?

                "I think there's enough checks and balances in our federal judiciary system and don't see the need for this type of change."

                We're not going to agree on that. I see the federal government growing like a cancer in it's power and reach, and with the approval of the judiciary. Selection of which has now become THE high stakes fight in Washington, because it determines what can be gotten away with, or even judicially imposed where politically infeasible.

                That doesn't look a bit like working checks and balances to me.

                1. ". . . and with the approval of the judiciary."

                  It's not the judiciary which approves or even authorizes the size and scope of the federal govt; it's the Constitution.

                  And those high stake fights--that's the checks and balances at work.

                  You and I both know there's plenty of grandstanding on both side (and it's always been that way), which inflates the "highness" of the stakes.

                  Add increased citizen political activism (a good thing), and the increased ability to monitor our govt and spread information (thanks Internets!), and of course the 'stakes' are going to be more aggressively contested.

                  It's good democracy in my book.

                  1. "It's not the judiciary which approves or even authorizes the size and scope of the federal govt; it's the Constitution."

                    Oh, bullshit. The Constitution gives the federal government authority over interstate commerce, the judiciary decides to permit regulation of all commerce on the pretext that regulating things that aren't interstate commerce is necessary to effectively regulate interstate commerce.

                    Thus erasing the "interstate" from the interstate commerce clause.

                    They work together: The legislature and President usurp power, and the judiciary permit it instead of enforcing the Constitution's actual terms. And then where the policy desired is politically infeasible, the judiciary pretends that it's constitutionally mandated, and the elected branches happily get thrown into the briar patch instead of pushing back.

            2. The principle of "no man should be the judge in his own case" applies to voters, too.

              I've lived in states that appoint judges and I've lived in states that elect judges. While both systems have their warts, in my experience the jurisdictions that have appointed judges are less bad.

              1. Less bad in some respect, worse in others. For instance, you don't typically see elected state judges overthrowing citizen initiatives, the way appointed ones are prone to doing.

                Bias is unavoidable, you can only decide who it will be in favor of.

                1. Judges overthrowing citizen initiatives is not necessarily a bad thing. There have been more than a few very bad (blatantly unconstitutional) citizen initiatives in a number of states.

                  1. Agreed. But you have more Michigan Proposal 2 (6th Circuit) decisions than you have the very bad ones.

            3. Originally federal judges were approved by the states in a round a bout way. States, not voters, selected senators. Now that senators are elected directly by the voters that removes states from the process of selecting judges.

          2. ===The decision that the "shouting fire in a crowded theater" line comes from (an criminal prosecution of the author/publisher of anti-draft leaflets) - ruled that the government can criminalize any speech for any reason without limit.===

            I think the reasoning there was that the leaflets (saying resist the WWI draft using *legal* means) interfered with Congress' direct power to raise armies. It had a basis other than arbitrary speech restriction, but was wrong because the Bill of Rights was layered atop the Constitution main body, restricting everything the government might do.

            In other words, Congress' ability to raise armies is subject to the bill of rights, at least as far as the first (and third!) go.

            1. "I think the reasoning there was that the leaflets (saying resist the WWI draft using *legal* means) interfered with Congress' direct power to raise armies."

              But the actual holding was much broader than that. What the court held was that while 1A free speech and free presses might prevent up-front censorship by the government, they did not in any way limit the authority of Congress to punish speech post-hoc.

  6. From point #2: "The Ninth Circuit recently addressed a similar issue in Retail Digital Network, LLC v. Prieto (9th Cir. 2017), holding that restricting only a "small portion" of alcohol advertising visible to consumers could not directly and materially advance the government's purported interest in promoting temperance." [Thus the Ninth Circuit ruled against a similar restriction on advertising for alcohol.]

    I find it quite interesting that the court chose to cite a case from the Ninth Circuit, given that they would be hearing the first appeal. A shot across the bow? For the Ninth to reverse, they'll have to discard rational thought and consistency even more forcefully than would be their norm.

    That case also illustrates some of the disparate treatment alcohol issues receive compared to guns. The abuse and misuse of alcohol consistently kills twice as many people each year as guns, yet nobody advocates for similarly restrictive treatment. Of course we all know this is because gun-haters actually buy and consume alcohol themselves.

    1. District courts are supposed to be citing cases from their circuit court -- those cases are binding precedent on them (as are U.S. Supreme Court cases). It's not a shot across the bow, I think; it's just a judge doing what he's supposed to do.

      1. A welcome development!

      2. Ah, that makes sense... so perhaps if not a shot across the bow, notice that we ARE paying attention to what they have already said on this issue! 🙂

  7. California. What else needs to be said?

  8. How can California possibly have an interest in preventing suicide if it had legalized assisted suicide?

    1. That's a very good question, and I don't see any good answer.

      Except, "but guns!", of course.

      1. "But guns!" is the answer to everything here in California.

    2. I think the notion is that not all suicides are equal. On one hand you have someone who is terminally ill and facing the 100% certainty of an unpleasant death in the near future, and on the other you have someone who might be temporarily distraught over a fixable problem. Reasonable people might enable one of those and prevent the other.

      1. Statistically, it would be more rational to go after inequities in divorce law, given that about half of suicides are guys who were recently divorced. But that's ideologically inadmissible for the Democrats.

        1. Perhaps women, who initiate about 70% of divorces, need a waiting period. Or maybe everyone should have to "show fault"?

          1. Or maybe divorce courts should be less prone to bankrupting the husband, and refusing them visitation rights to their own children.

            1. That's to downstream of the problem.

              1. It's downstream of part of the problem, anyway. Divorce settlements that leave the woman in great financial shape and the man dead broke with crushing bills are a big part of it, too. No way the judiciary would sign off on settlements that went the other way.

                Hard to put your life together again when you're working like a slave just to slow down how fast you go deeper into debt, I can say from personal experience.

                1. Always apropos - Jerry Reed - She got the mine, I got the shaft:

            2. That would require removing the voting rights of women and removing them from positions of power, which of course should have been done a long time ago.

          2. IIRC NC has a 1 year waiting period.

    3. How can California possibly have an interest in preventing stabbing if licenses surgeons?

      1. Wow. You don't usually live up to your creen name so completely.

    4. How can California possibly have an interest in preventing suicide if it had legalized assisted suicide?"

      Answer because the government does not like competition hence you can't feed the homeless or get a private student loan etc... Once you realize this truth then all is understandable

  9. I'm going to take a wild guess that a fair number of suicides in California are directly caused by a deep depression over the fact that California is being governed by clinically insane politicians.

  10. Pretty long casual chain of logic here

    handgun ad = bad because...

    handgun ad -> lemma 1: seen by people-> lemma 2: some people impulsive -> 3.1 impulsive people can be -> 3.1.1 gullible/suggestible
    3.2 impulsive people can also be -> 3.2.1 risktaking, extreme personality -> one extreme personality attribute is that of depression/being suicidal. -> 4 suicidal people look for ways to lethal things in ways this law will help -> 5. They look for these things to kill themselves in ways this law will help -> 6. One such venue is a gunshop -> 7. ads at gunshops have a relevant effect that seeing the guns themselves don't -> 8. Therefore seeing a handgun ad in 1. will cause people to blow their brains out.

  11. No! You people do not understand.. Firearms have long ago achieved sentience, and have a powerful influence over those who possess them. Guns are in fact.. parasites. The nitrate residue from shooting a gun acts like toxoplasmosis, altering the behavior of the probable would-be felon shooting it. All but select law-enforcement officials, political security, and the most stalwart soldier are compelled to put the parasitic hunk of metal in their mouths, and pull the trigger as a result. Ads make people aware of guns, and compel them to purchase.. as people are compulsive by nature.. This plays right into the gun's hand, and expands the parasite's vicious cycle. This judge is culpable..

  12. Laws based on untested hypotheticals are crocks, especially 19th and early 20th century gun laws.

    Legal transport of a firearm from my home to go to a gunsmith, target range, hunting, or other traditional lawful use, required compliance with the Tennessee "going armed" statute which outlawed having a gun accessible in the passenger compartment where it could be used for defense or offense. An honest citizen is required to transport a gun cased, unloaded, locked in the trunk. (For most of my life, an exemption to the "going armed" ban was a handgun carry permit with 95 different Tennessee county sheriff standards.)

    In nearby Virginia the law saw concealed carry as the practice of blaggards and assassins seeking an unmanly advantage over the unwary. An honest citizen transporting a gun with no evil intent did not hide the gun but had it on open view to anyone approaching their vehicle. Open carry for defense was also legal in Virginia. (For most of my life, one could get a Virginia concealed carry permit if the county judge liked your looks.)

    How could both contradictory hypotheticals be true?


    1. (continued)

      In the Upper East Tennessee/Southwest Virginia area, the mountain ridges run northeast to southwest. The roads follow valleys and gaps in the ridges. Travel from point A to point B often involved excursion into the other state.

      Transporting my gun to go to a target match, to hunt or target practice on private property, to a gunsmith, or for any other traditional lawful use, starting in legal transport mode (gun cased, unloaded, locked in the trunk) as an honest citizen in compliance with the going armed statute, the very second I crossed the state line, I became a blaggard and assassin seeking unmanly advantage over the unwary by carrying concealed.

      When Tennessee and Virginia went to state-issued shall-issue right-to-carry defensive handgun permit system, I was persuaded to get a Tennessee handgun carry permit THCP (open carry legal but concealed carry preferred) which the state tailored with the Virginia concealed carry permit CCP so residents with state permits were legal in either state. Eventually Tennessee decided to grant recognition to any valid state-issued carry permit regardless of formal riciprocity agreements to recognize the THCP (like recognizing other states' marriage certificates or drivers license, you know).


      1. (furthermore)

        Not too long ago, Michael Bloomberg contributed millions to the campaign of the Virginia attorney general. The first act of the new VA AG was to announce he was denying recognition of the THCP. By the time the dust had settled, Virginia governor and legislature overrode the AG and went Tennessee: recognizing all valid state-issued carry permit/licenses. Bloomberg and Everytown ran ads denouncing Virginia for doing so.

        1. Wow. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I would think that Bigelow v. Virginia would be relevant here, as it held that the First Amendment doesn't allow the government to ban advertising for the exercise of a constitutional right (in that case, abortion; in this, buying firearms).

  14. Only a Progressive Plantation government lawyer would argue 1) "purchases by people with impulsive personality traits" leads to more suicides yet 2) "[g]uns used for suicide are bought a mean of 11 years before the suicide."

    This sounds more like the mind reading of Minority Report than producing actual scientific studies. Makes me wonder if the so-called "experts" were righting a fictional story instead of performing actual scientific research.

    I unfortunately note that a person intent on suicide will find a method, with or without a firearm.

    1. Just make a furtive movement in the vicinity of Officer Friendly, and mission accomplished.

    2. If that's the mean, the obvious question is, what is the mode?

      Seriously, most of the correlation between guns and suicide is likely due to people deciding to commit suicide, going out to buy a gun, and shortly after shooting themselves. You might think a waiting period would help here, but the truth is that sort of depression doesn't clear up on its own over night, it's perfectly normal for suicides to have started their preparations days or weeks in advance.

      Then there's the cohort who were gun owners most of their lives, and late in life commit suicide due to some lingering fatal disease or the death of a spouse. Again, the gun is not the cause.

      The mistake, (If you can call a pretext a "mistake".) is in pretending that suicide is an impulsive rather than considered act, that can be prevented by throwing up some minor inconvenience.

      But, of course, it is pretext, they just want an excuse to take guns away.

  15. If California really wanted to reduce the incidence of suicides, it should just ban abortion. After all, a study in Finland found that the rate of suicides among women who had had an abortion in the previous 12 months was more than 3 times the suicide rate of women in the general population. If prevention of suicides is a legitimate reason to ignore the First Amendment and to infringe upon the Second Amendment, then surely it is a sufficient reason to prevent women from getting abortions.

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