A U.S. appeals court declared on Wednesday that a California law prohibiting gun marketing to minors was unlikely to lessen gun violence or the illegal use of firearms.
A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco found hunting and sport shooting groups were likely to prevail in their allegations that the statute violates their free-speech rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and it was stopped pending the resolution of the lawsuit.
The court reversed a January ruling by a federal judge in Sacramento who had said the law properly regulated commercial speech and the groups were unlikely to succeed in their challenge.
The 9th Circuit said that because California allows minors to possess and use guns under supervision, the state cannot justify the ban as a way to curb the unlawful use of firearms.
“California’s law does not significantly advance its purported goals and is more extensive than necessary,” Circuit Judge Kenneth Lee wrote for the court.
The 9th Circuit, which has nearly 30 active judges, is considered to be one of the most liberal U.S. appeals courts. But the three judges on Wednesday’s panel was made up entirely of appointees of Republican presidents.
The California Attorney General’s office and lawyers for the groups that sued over the ban did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed the measure into law last year, citing the need for new legislation “as the (U.S.) Supreme Court rolls back important gun safety protections.”
Newsom’s office cited gun manufacturer Wee 1 Tactical’s advertising of an AR-15 meant for kids as an example of why the law was needed.
California lawmakers passed the ban days after the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court ruled the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment protects a person’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense.
That ruling, which said any restrictions on gun ownership must fall within the nation’s “historical tradition of firearm regulation,” has led courts to strike down other gun control laws.