The decision came from U.S. District Judge Mark Holcomb on Monday and repealed a law that went into effect in January 2022. Authored by Democratic state Sen. Dave Min, the law bans “any firearm, firearm precursor part, or ammunition” on property within the Orange County Fair. A second law took effect this year and expanded the ban to county fairgrounds on state-owned land.
Min’s bill was in part to prevent illegal or unlicensed firearms or ghost guns sold at gun shows. However, Holcomb disagreed that this argument was enough to ban the sale of firearms at gun shows, ruling the regulation is “more extensive than is necessary to serve that interest.”
“California’s interest in stopping crimes committed with illegal weapons, as important as it is, cannot justify prohibiting the complete sale of lawful firearms at gun shows,” Holcomb, appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote.
“Although crimes committed with illegal firearms are unquestionably a serious concern, Defendants have not shown that there is an appreciably higher risk of illegal gun sales occurring at gun shows than there is at brick-and-mortar stores in California,” Holcomb said.
Challenges to the ban included the California Rifle and Pistol Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, and multiple other gun rights groups.
This ruling does not affect the ban of gun shows on other state-owned property, such as the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego County, that were declared illegal in 2020. That ruling is currently under appeal.
Attorney General Rob Bonta defended the laws and those alike in court, working alongside Democrats to close what they say is a gun show loophole. Bonta could appeal the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which Min indicated is likely.
In a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Min denounced the decision, writing that it’s “the very essence of federal overreach that conservatives have so long decried.”
“Today’s injunction, issued by a Trump-appointed activist judge, is an outrageous abuse of judicial authority that will undoubtedly make our communities less safe,” Min said, adding he’s “confident this decision will be reversed on appeal, and pray this totally unwarranted injunction does not lead to the deaths of more innocent gun violence victims in the interim.”