By Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman
In the wake of another Supreme Court ruling that strengthens and more clearly defines Second Amendment protections, anti-gun politicians have developed yet another way to threaten those rights, along with rights protected by the First Amendment in an effort to silence gun owners and penalize them for fighting back.
In California, where such strategies are typically developed and then spread across the map, this plan of attack is already in progress.
A federal court case known as Junior Sports Magazines, Inc. et.al. v. Bonta cuts to the heart of the problem. Several plaintiffs including gun rights organizations are challenging changes in state law created by passage of Assembly Bill 2571, which makes it unlawful for any firearm industry members to advertise, market, or arrange for placement of an advertising or marketing communication concerning any firearm-related product in a manner that is designed, intended, or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors. Plaintiffs are asking for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the law.
The second prong of this anti-gun strategy is legislation enacted to thwart such challenges by financially penalizing anyone — including an attorney or an entire law firm — if they seek declaratory or injunctive relief from any firearms-related California state statute or local ordinance, or even a rule or regulation by making them liable to pay attorney’s fees and costs of the prevailing party.
Simply put, anyone seeking to enjoin a California gun restriction faces the prospect of liability for the state’s attorneys’ fees if the plaintiff does not win on all aspects of the case, even if their case prevails on the merits, settles a claim without a waiver, or voluntarily dismisses any portion of the case for any reason.
In essence, California politicians are effectively silencing debate on issues directly affecting rights secured by the Second Amendment, by legislating against those who would challenge their laws. What began as an attack on one constitutional right has now become an attack on another right, yet civil libertarians are silent.
Democrats led by Gov. Gavin Newsom are saying, “You have freedom of speech only if you agree with us.” That is not how the Founders perceived this country, and it is why they included the First Amendment in our Bill of Rights.
If this were about any issue other than guns, the media would be going crazy. Where are the editorials in the New York Times and Washington Post? Why aren’t there reports about this in every newspaper? Are stories being spiked, or is the situation simply being ignored?
One might expect this sort of censorship in Putin’s Russia, but it is here, now in Joe Biden’s America. When anti-rights fanatics take their fight to this level, it’s really an attack on all Americans, not just 100 million gun owners.
Today, they’re coming after gun rights. Tomorrow, perhaps they’ll be coming after another right you cherish. Maybe your right to protest, publish, or provide an alternate viewpoint.
That’s not the country in which our parents and grandparents grew up, and it shouldn’t be the country our children and grandchildren are forced to accept.
Alan Gottlieb is founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. Dave Workman is the communications director for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.