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California Gun Dealers Move to Strike Down Law Banning Handgun Ads

November 17, 2014 (SACRAMENTO, CA) — Moving quickly to strike down a California law that bans the on-site display of handguns and handgun ads by licensed gun dealers, lawyers for four retailers suing Attorney General Kamala Harris and Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms Chief Stephen Lindley filed a motion for preliminary injunction today in an effort to prevent it from being enforced.

The dealers say 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 the four corners of its store,” and that the law “unconstitutionally prevents firearms dealers from advertising even the most basic commercial information—’Handguns for Sale’—at their places of business.”

The sale of handguns is not only legal—it is constitutionally protected. The First Amendment protects truthful, nonmisleading commercial speech promoting lawful products or services, but especially when the products or services are themselves protected by other constitutional rights, such as the right to abortion or the right to buy contraceptives. What is true for unenumerated constitutional rights must be at least as true for the enumerated right to bear arms, which includes the right to possess and acquire handguns.

Because “[the dealers] are irreparably harmed by the enforcement of Section 26820,” the brief argues, “the Court should issue a preliminary injunction that prevents Defendants from enforcing California Penal Code section 26820.”

“The loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury,” Bradley Benbrook, the plaintiffs’ Sacramento-based attorney, said in the motion. If the law “is not enjoined, Defendants will continue to enforce this unconstitutional law against Plaintiffs, who will be forced to choose between sacrificing their First Amendment rights and losing their property and livelihood (forfeiting their dealer’s license for noncompliance).”

The lawsuit, captioned Tracy Rifle and Pistol LLC, et al. v. Harris, et al., will be heard before Federal Eastern District of California Judge Troy L. Nunley in Sacramento on January 29, 2015, at 2:00pm. Case information and filings can be viewed at http://www.calgunsfoundation.org/litigation/trap-v-harris.

The case is supported by firearm industry association California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees as well as Second Amendment civil rights groups The Calguns Foundation and Second Amendment Foundation.

California Association of Federal Firearm Licensees (www.calffl.org) is California’s most tenacious advocacy group for Second Amendment and related economic rights. CAL-FFL members include firearm dealers, training professionals, shooting ranges, collectors, gun owners, and others who participate in the firearms ecosystem.

The Calguns Foundation (www.calgunsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves its members, supporters, and the public through educational, cultural, and judicial efforts to advance Second Amendment and related civil rights.

The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.


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