Newsom Vows To Fight Court Ruling That California Law on Marketing Guns to Minors Is Likely Unconstitutional

‘This is another example of legislative overreach and the politicians’ willingness to trample on constitutional rights,’ one gun rights advocate says.

Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee via AP
Governor Newsom on May 12, 2023, at Sacramento. Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee via AP

Governor Newsom is vowing to find a way to challenge a ruling from the riders of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that a California law barring gun manufacturers from marketing their products to children likely violates the First Amendment.

The ruling Wednesday was concerning a potential preliminary injunction, an action that would block the law from taking effect while the case is pending at the trial court.

Although the trial court initially ruled in favor of the state, allowing the law to take effect and saying that it likely did not violate the First Amendment, a three-judge panel of Republican-appointed riders overturned the lower court ruling, saying that the law likely violates the free speech right and will not take effect while the case is pending.

The California law was passed last year in the wake of numerous shootings and a Supreme Court ruling that New York’s century old gun control law, the Sullivan Act, was unconstitutional.

Mr. Newsom supports the California law, which banned advertisements for firearms that were directed at minors. In a press conference, Mr. Newsom singled out Wee 1 Tactical’s JR-15, an AR-15 marketed toward children, as an example of the sort of weapon for which lawmakers were attempting to ban advertisements.

In reaction, Junior Sports Magazine and Second Amendment advocates brought a suit against Attorney General Rob Bonta, arguing that such a ban violated their First Amendment rights.

“Simply put, California cannot lean on gossamers of speculation to weave an evidence-free narrative that its law curbing the First Amendment ‘significantly’ decreases unlawful gun use among minors,” Judge Kenneth Lee wrote in the court’s majority opinion.

Mr. Newsom immediately condemned the court ruling, calling it “pure insanity” and saying that he and Mr. Bonta would be exploring options to challenge it. “The court is fighting to protect marketing weapons of war to children — a ‘junior’ AR-15,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement.

Mr. Newsom also pointed to marketing materials for the JR-15 and the company Wee 1 Tactical, which feature childish cartoons and images of children wielding the JR-15.

Wee 1 Tactical emphasizes on its site that there are additional and redundant safety features on the JR-15 that it says “puts the adult in control of the firearms safety switch.”

“The JR-15 .22 youth training rifle is for adults who wish to supervise the safe introduction of hunting and shooting sports to the next generation of responsible gun owners,” a Wee 1 Tactical spokesman tells the Sun. “Parents and guardians wanting to pass on this American tradition have been purchasing small caliber, lighter youth training rifles for decades.”

While Mr. Newsom condemned the ruling, gun rights advocates in California, like the California Pistol and Rifle Association, hailed the decision as a victory for Second Amendment rights that appears to foreshadow a favorable court ruling.

“Although this does not end the case, this is the outcome we were hoping for,” the CRPA president, Chuck Michel, said in a statement. “This is another example of legislative overreach and the politicians’ willingness to trample on constitutional rights.”

The New York Sun

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