‘Guns’: The Word And Handgun Images Now Banned In California

Tara Dodrill - Author

Jan. 30 2017, Updated 2:17 a.m. ET

Guns, the word, is now banned in California gun store displays. Firearms dealers in the state are no longer allowed to share either images of handguns or the word which describes them best — guns. A lawsuit brought by gun store owners maintain the law violates their First Amendment rights.

The guns lawsuit was brought by the Calguns Foundation (and others) on behalf of Ten Percent Firearms, Tracy Rifle and Pistol LLC, Sacramento Black Rifle Incorporated, Michael Baryla, Wesley Morris, Park Arms Incorporated, Jeffrey Mullen, and Jeffrey Mullen. The defendants named in the case include the California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms official Stephen Lindley and California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

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California gun stores cannot display signs letting customers know thy sell handguns but photos and descriptions of shotguns and rifles are just fine with state lawmakers, according to the new law. The no guns images or words complaint filed by First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh and the Benbrook Law Group cited First Amendment infringement in the case. “The First Amendment prevents the government from telling businesses it disfavors that they can’t engage in truthful advertising. This case follows a long line of Supreme Court cases protecting such disfavored businesses from that type of censorship,” lead attorney Bradley Benbrook said.

An excerpt from the free speech complaint details their issue.

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“By prohibiting firearms dealers from displaying on-site handgun advertisements, Section 26820 [of state law] violates the right of firearms dealers to disseminate truthful, non-misleading commercial information about a lawful, constitutionally protected product. Section 26820 imposes a content- and speaker-based burden on protected expression that is, in practice, viewpoint-discriminatory, and imposes an intolerable burden on the right of firearms dealers to advertise accurate information about the sale of handguns. So long as responsible, law-abiding adults may purchase handguns in California — a right secured by the Second Amendment — the First Amendment prevents the state from enforcing Section 26820′s ban on on-site handgun advertising.”

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“I am one of the most heavily regulated and inspected businesses in existence, but it’s still illegal for me to show customers that I sell handguns until after they walk in the door,” Tracy Rifle and Pistol owner Baryla Tracy said. “That’s about as silly a law as you could imagine, even here in California.” Tracy was recently cited for displaying the images of three handguns in her own store window. Images of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle displayed in an adjacent window were not included in the citation.

The Second Amendment Foundation is supporting the legal complaint voiced by California gun store owners. “A state cannot legislate political correctness at the expense of a fundamental, constitutionally protected civil right. SAF is delighted to offer its financial support of this case,” a statement released by gun rights group founder Alan M. Gottlieb said. “Firearms dealers have First Amendment rights as well as Second Amendment rights. Even in California.”

What do you think about California banning gun images and the word gun in firearms displays and advertising? Are the First Amendment rights of the Second Amendment advocates being infringed upon?


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