Court upholds California law banning gun shows at county fairs

Gun Rights

SAN FRANCISCO, California: This week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned 3-0, a federal judge’s ruling in October that blocked a ban on gun shows at county fairs and other public properties, and decided that the laws do not violate the rights of firearm sellers or buyers

Democratic state Sen. Dave Min wrote both measures. The first, in January 2022, barred gun shows at the Orange County Fair, and the other, last year, extended the ban to county fairgrounds on state-owned land.

U.S. District Judge Mark Holcomb’s decision last fall ruled that by restricting the sale of firearms that are legally available at any gun shop, the state was infringing upon the rights of both sellers and prospective buyers. Judge Holcomb emphasized that lawful gun sales constitute commercial speech, which is protected under the First Amendment.

But the appeals court decided the laws prohibit only sales agreements on public property – not discussions, advertisements or other speech about firearms. The bans “do not directly or inevitably restrict any expressive activity,” Judge Richard Clifton wrote in Tuesday’s ruling, according to AP.

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who defended the laws in court, hailed the decision.

“Guns should not be sold on property owned by the state, it is that simple,” Bonta said in a statement, quoted by The Associated Press. “This is another victory in the battle against gun violence in our state and country.”

Under a separate state law, not challenged in the case, the purchase of a firearm at a gun show is completed at a licensed gun store after a 10-day waiting period and a background check.

B&L Productions, a gun show company, challenged the ban on firearm sales at fairgrounds. They argued that this ban violated the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. However, the appeals court disagreed with this argument. The court pointed out that within the same ZIP code as the Orange County Fairgrounds, there were six licensed firearms dealers available to conduct legal firearm sales, the subject of Min’s 2022 law.

Attorney Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, said they would appeal the ruling.

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