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It’s bad enough that, thanks to a micro-stamping requirement on new models, the state of California maintains an ever-dwindling list of handguns that Golden Staters may purchase legally. And that any hacked off or hoplophobic family member can now report a gun owner as a potential threat under the state’s new gun violence restraining order law and have their shootin’ irons confiscated. But did you know that gun stores are prohibited from advertising that they sell…handguns? They can’t even display an image of a handgun in any way that’s visible to the public. Which is how Tracy Rifle and Pistol ran afoul of the state’s byzantine firearms regulations . . .

According to a press release from the Firearms Policy Coalition, the gun store was cited by the nation’s best-looking attorney general (above), Kamala Harris, under a 1923 law for displaying photos of three handguns that (gasp!) can be seen through a window from outside the store. Oh, the humanity! Now, Tracy and three other retailers are suing Harris and the California Department of Justice on First Amendment grounds. Here’s the FPC’s press release:

November 10, 2014 (SACRAMENTO, CA) — Four California gun dealers are filing a federal lawsuit today against California Attorney General Kamala Harris over what they say is a violation of their First Amendment civil rights. Stephen Lindley, who heads the DOJ’s Bureau of Firearms, is named as a co-defendant in the case.

Tracy Rifle and Pistol, a firearm retailer and indoor shooting range located in San Joaquin County, was recently cited by Harris’ Department of Justice for having pictures of three handguns in window signs that can be seen outside the store. California Penal Code section 26820, first enacted in 1923, bans gun stores from putting up signs advertising the sale of handguns — but not shotguns or rifles. An adjacent window image at Tracy Rifle, which shows a photograph of an AR-15 rifle, was not cited by the DOJ.

“I run one of the most heavily regulated and inspected businesses in existence, but it’s still illegal for me to show customers that I sell handguns until after they walk in the door,” explained Michael Baryla, the owner of Tracy Rifle & Pistol. “That’s about as silly a law as you could imagine, even here in California.”

While California gun dealers cannot display even the word ‘handgun’ at their stores to passersby, adjacent businesses and anti-gun protesters are not prohibited from doing as much. The court filings argue that the law operates as unconstitutional speaker, content, and viewpoint-based discrimination, in addition to having other legal problems.

Similar statutes banning handgun displays can be found in places like Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, D.C., but the California Department of Justice appears to be the only state agency enforcing provisions like the challenged ban.

The lawsuit claims that this restriction violates gun stores’ First Amendment rights, by severely restricting truthful, non-misleading commercial speech. Lead counsel Bradley Benbrook said about the lawsuit, “The First Amendment prevents the government from telling businesses it disfavors that they can’t engage in truthful advertising. This case follows a long line of Supreme Court cases protecting such disfavored businesses from that type of censorship.”

Though the case doesn’t claim a Second Amendment violation, plaintiffs do argue that commercial advertisement of constitutionally protected products and services — whether abortion, contraceptives, or guns — is especially clearly protected under the First Amendment.

The plaintiffs are also represented by Benbrook’s colleague Stephen Duvernay and Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has written and taught extensively about the First and Second Amendments. Before joining the UCLA faculty 20 years ago, Volokh clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also operates the popular legal blog “The Volokh Conspiracy,” now hosted at the Washington Post.

California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, the state’s firearm industry association, joined gun rights groups The Calguns Foundation and Second Amendment Foundation in support of the case.

The lawsuit’s other plaintiffs include Sacramento Black Rifle of Rocklin, Ten Percent Firearms of Taft, and PRK Arms, a Fresno-based dealer that operates a chain of three stores in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley, as well as business owners Robert Adams, Wesley Morris, and Jeffrey Mullen, respectively.

A copy of the complaint can be viewed at http://www.calgunsfoundation.org/litigation/trap-v-harris.

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57 Responses to BREAKING: Four CA Gun Dealers Sue State AG Over Handgun Image Ban

  1. What about a photo of a Pop-Tart chewed into the shape of a pistol?

    How about an AR-15 shaped cake?

    Would those be illegal?

    • What about the legality of these…

      An employee with a Glock tattoo who stands by the window all day?

      A photo (taken in public) of a holstered gun on a police officer’s hip? (With nothing visible as to the officer’s identity.)

      A drawing of a gun done in crayon by a daughter of an employee who brought his girl to work for Take Your Daughter to Work Day?

      • Not an issue. The law applies only to sellers of handguns and prevents them from displaying images of handguns. Not anyone else.

        • I meant what if the gun seller used any of the above methods to communicate in their shop window.

          I was pushing the envelope to imagine how it could possibly hold up in court.

  2. Good ol’ Kamala….

    I have to agree with Pee-Bo and say she’s the hottest AG out there…

    I’d hatef*ck her…

  3. So if a gun store post a ‘no gun’ placard in the window is that still running afoul of the law??

    How about putting a slash (in the other direction) through the prior? A “No, no-guns” placard.

    • It states in the article that showing an image for that purpose is legal… you just can legally advertise that you sell handguns…

    • All nonsense aside, (read my previous comment for example) the photo of AG Harris is pretty harmless… You know she isn’t under-endowed, but it isn’t exactly sharing more than it should.

  4. A new motto for the Golden State: “California — Screwing with the First Amendment since 1923.”

    Or how about: “California — Where carrying a stolen gun is okay, but showing pictures of legal guns isn’t.”

    Better post ’em in Spanish or nobody there will be able to read ’em.

  5. Does this mean no guns in movie posters? A sharp gun guy can say “Hey (insert actor/actress name) is carrying a Sig, Glock, etc,… Boy the old Dirty Harry posters would have been banned today.
    The Land of Fruits and Nuts,…..
    Geez!!!

  6. DAN! WAKE UP! Stop spreading FUD. As bad as the law is, the California gun violence restraining orders may be sought under Penal Code section 18150. (a) (1) ONLY by “An immediate family member of a person or a law enforcement officer.” “Immediate family member” is defined by statute as well. So not strangers, and not irate neighbors. Period. Here is a link to the bill language as adopted: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB1014

  7. “I run one of the most heavily regulated and inspected businesses in existence, but it’s still illegal for me to show customers that I sell handguns until after they walk in the door,” explained Michael Baryla, the owner of Tracy Rifle & Pistol. “That’s about as silly a law as you could imagine, even here in California.”

    Yes Mr. Baryla it is silly. Now when will we wake up as a nation to all of these other silly “laws” that continue to hamper this country?

    • Ability to make a living. Eating is a great motivator. How about some support for ending California’s draconian gun laws instead?

    • It’s where she wants to live. That’s why. We’ve got to fight our battles somewhere. If not in Kalifornia then it will be Arizona, Maine, Tenesse or anywhere else they wish to try to steal our rights. You can’t just run forever.

    • Um, let’s see…

      Your job is there, and the job market for your expertise is bad;

      You have family there that can’t / won’t relocate, and you value their regular presence / help with the kids / etc.;

      You’re divorced and if you move you’ll be lucky if you see your kids once per year;

      You’re living on land that’s been in the family since before CA was a state, and the heritage matters to you; oh, yeah, and of course,

      As a matter of principle.

    • The speed limits are pretty cool. You can do just under 80 on the freeway and usually not get pestered. I’ve been literally pulled over for 6 over in Port Washington, WI. The officer asked me if I knew how fast I was going. I said “Yes. 31. Slow day for you?”
      Seriously. 31 in a 25 got me a verbal warning.

      CA has pretty robust self defense laws, and CCW holders can carry in schools.

      Plus, if you’re a cop, it’s really easy to find people breaking the law. I do Christmas shopping on a motorcycle. So it’s not all bad.

      • Being from CA, the speed limit thing and traffic enforcement needs to be exported. People don’t understand how CA actually cut out the BS speeding tickets and speed traps. Here in Nevada, there are useless 25 MPH zones and speed traps all over the place. In CA, speed limits are pretty strictly regulated and have to be approved by a traffic engineer (for the most part) to be enforceable. Go read the vehicle code for full details. No ticket quotas in CA too.

        CA does have some really great stuff going for it.

    • Beagle ears… 🙂 That’s what I was thinking, only not in those exact terms.

      I came across some research quite a while ago (don’t ask me how) that claimed that bras don’t prevent breasts from sagging; apparently it’s all about genetics in the long run. Exactly how they arrived at that conclusion, I don’t know. Maybe the study’s authors couldn’t get their hands on Kamala’s mudflaps any other way.

      • IIRC, there was a study, many years long, that concluded braless breasts supported themselves better over time.

        I do not recall how much opportunity there was for self-selection in the study (for example, if only women with firm breasts go braless, then braless women will have firm breasts and that result will be meaningless).

        Some people will say ‘look at the hangers in National Geographic and tell me bras don’t help’.

  8. Does this lawsuit have a chance? Tobacco ads are regulated, so why not guns? Or is the idea that this is a total prohibition rather than regulation, and so it violates the 1st Amendment? Of course, you should be able to advertize a product protected by the 2nd Amendment regardless of the 1st, but presumably this lawsuit doesn’t bring up the 2nd Amendment.

  9. The anti’s have become our best friends and their own worst enemies. The more ignorant and bizarre their demands and actions become, the worse (crazier) they look, and all the easier to enforce the 2A!

  10. Did they do this to give the gun shop some free money? because I cannot see them not winning this case especially is Volokh involved. Do Progressives even bother to think before they act?

    • When a state AG decides to stomp on a small business, 99.9% of the time the worst thing that will happen is some lawyer will call them up and make a deal with them. The AG never stops to think “what will happen if they counterattack in Federal court with a really good attorney?”, because it almost never happens. And besides, statist clowns like Kamala Harris and Lisa Madigan think they are on a divine jihad against guns.

      • I wish Illinois would have gotten rid of that hag Madigan in this last election. Rauner shows promise…but anything is better than Quinn. Just good to have a Republican back in the driver’s seat…that might help offset the democratic majority that exists in both sides of the general assembly.

        • Lisa Madigan became AG mainly because her adopted father is a famously criminal politician, right?

          With that sort of intelligence in voting, there’s little hope left for the state of SillyNoises.

  11. This is as ridiculous as telling Office Fax or Stapled “you can’t advertize that you sell paper clips. Manilla folders are OK, just don’t give office workers the idea you sell paper clips. They might come here and….buy them!”

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