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California’s Restrictive Firearms Advertising Law Blocked by Federal Court

Written by Orchid


September 15, 2023


California Firearms Advertising Law AB2571

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked California’s law banning firearm advertisements that “reasonably appear to be attractive to minors.” The court cited the law’s infringement on protected commercial free speech and doubts about its effectiveness in reducing gun violence or unlawful firearm use.

Last year, California enacted Assembly Bill 2571 (AB2571), making it unlawful for any “firearm industry member” to “advertise, market, or arrange for placement of an advertising or marketing communication concerning any firearm-related product in a manner that is designed, intended, or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.”

The Ninth Circuit panel indicated that hunting and sport shooting groups were likely to succeed on their claims that AB2571 violated their free-speech rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Consequently, the court temporarily blocked the law pending the case’s final outcome. The central issue pertains to whether California can ban advertisements about firearms that can be legally used by adults and minors merely because they “reasonably appear to be attractive to minors.”

Important to the Court’s order is that fact that California law actually permits minors to possess and use firearms under adult supervision.  

The Ninth Circuit further concluded that AB2571 effectively constitutes a blanket restriction on firearm product advertising which it deemed unconstitutional under any standard of review. As a result, the court reversed the lower court’s denial of the plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, blocking the enforcement of AB2571 until the case reaches a final resolution.

This decision marks a significant development in the ongoing firearms legislation debate, highlighting the need to balance commercial free speech with firearm safety concerns. Orchid will continue to closely monitor this case as it progresses.

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