Court upholds California ban on gun shows

Federal Appeals Court Confirms Legislation Does Not Violate First Amendment Rights of Gun Vendors or Buyers.

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On Tuesday, a federal appeals court maintained California‘s prohibition on gun exhibitions at county fairs and other public venues, ruling that the restrictions do not infringe the rights of weapon vendors or purchasers.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ 3-0 decision reverses a federal judge’s October finding that banned the legislation.

Democratic state Sen. Dave Min wrote both legislation. The first, which took effect in January 2022, prohibited gun exhibits at the Orange County Fair, while the second, which went into effect last year, expanded the prohibition to county fairs on state-owned territory.

In his judgment last October, U.S. District Judge Mark Holcomb said that the state was violating the rights of sellers and potential purchasers by barring transactions for guns that could be purchased at any gun store. He said that authorized gun sales were commercial speech protected by the First Amendment.

However, the appeals court ruled that the statutes only bar sales agreements on public land, not debates, marketing, or other forms of firearm-related communication.

The limitations “do not directly or inevitably restrict any expressive activity,” Judge Richard Clifton ruled in Tuesday’s decision.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who had defended the legislation in court, praised the ruling.

“Guns should not be sold on state-owned property, plain and simple,” Bonta said in a statement. “This is another victory in the battle against gun violence in our state and country.”

Gun fairs draw hundreds of potential consumers to local fairgrounds. According to Clifton, a different state rule that is not being challenged in the case requires that the actual purchase of a handgun at a gun show be performed in a licensed gun shop after a 10-day waiting period and a background check.

Gun-control organizations have said that the events are dangerous because they attract youngsters and allow for “straw purchases” by those who are unqualified to own guns.

The lawsuit was launched by B&L Productions, a gun show firm, which also claimed that the restriction on fairgrounds sales violated the constitutional right to keep and bear guns. The appeals court disagreed, pointing out that there were six licensed guns retailers in the same ZIP code as the Orange County Fairgrounds, which is the focus of Min’s 2022 ordinance.

Min said that the reintroduction of the laws would make Californians safer.

“I hope that in my lifetime, we will return to being a society where people’s lives are valued more than guns, and where gun violence incidents are rare and shocking rather than commonplace as they are today,” Min said in a statement on Tuesday.

Attorney Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, the state branch of the National Rifle Association, said the verdict will be challenged.

“CRPA will continue to protect the despised gun culture and fight back against an overreaching government that seeks to limit disfavored fundamental rights and discriminate against certain groups of people on state property,” Michel stated in a statement sent to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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