Regular readers may recall that four California gun dealers are suing the state on First Amendment grounds because they are prohibited by law from displaying any image of a handgun that can be seen by the public. And, of course, the nation’s best-looking attorney general is vigorously defending the suit, because any image of a firearm must be suppressed. Or something. Anyway, the plaintiffs had moved for a preliminary injunction in the case that would allow them to do something so bold as to include an outline of a revolver on their store signs. And while District Court Judge Troy L. Nunley (above) acknowledged that the store owners’ rights are most likely being violated, that they have been done actual harm by the law and and seem likely to prevail…he doesn’t want to disturb the Golden State’s regulatory status quo by allowing handgun images where frail women and little children might, you know, see them. The Calguns Foundation’s press release laying it all out is after the jump . . .
July 16, 2015 (SACRAMENTO, CA) – The State of California’s ban on handgun-related speech by licensed gun dealers likely violates their First Amendment speech rights, held a federal judge in Sacramento earlier this morning. The order, issued by District Court Judge Troy L. Nunley, found that the ban is probably unconstitutional, likely doesn’t materially reduce crime, and likely irreparably harms plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to express themselves the way they wish to. Nonetheless, the judge allowed the restriction to temporarily stand, while the case progresses further.
The gun dealers argued that California Penal Code section 26820—first enacted in 1923—prevents them from displaying any “handgun or imitation handgun, or [a] placard advertising the sale or other transfer thereof” anywhere that can be seen outside their stores and “unconstitutionally prevents firearms dealers from advertising even the most basic commercial information—‘Handguns for Sale’—at their places of business.”
In today’s order, Judge Nunley said that the State “does not meet its burden of showing that the Central Hudson elements, in tandem with the additional First Amendment principles discussed above, are met. Therefore, Plaintiffs raise serious questions going to the merits of their First Amendment challenge to section 26820.