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It quickly became clear that Flagstaff’s city government didn’t want [Timberline Firearms & Training’s Rob] Wilson’s business, or gun-related businesses in general, advertising at its facilities and was scrambling to come up with a justification. But government agencies are limited in their ability to pick who can and can’t speak on public property.

“By denying Mr. Wilson’s request to advertise based on an unreasonable and pretextual application of the advertising policy, the City has violated Mr. Wilson’s constitutional rights to freedom of speech and due process of law,” John Thorpe, staff attorney for the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, informed Flagstaff officials in an October 24 letter. “Moreover, the new policy currently under consideration is unconstitutional, both as applied to Mr. Wilson (as it expressly targets his expression) and on its face (as it bans broad, poorly-defined categories of speech and discriminates based on content and viewpoint).”

Flagstaff was on shaky ground. While commercial speech enjoys somewhat lesser protection than other forms of expression, it is still covered by the First Amendment. Under the Central Hudson test, the U.S. Supreme Court established that if the speech concerns lawful activity and is not misleading, to be allowed to regulate the speech the government must have a substantial interest, the regulation must materially advance the government’s substantial interest, and the regulation must be narrowly tailored.

Importantly, as Thorpe pointed out to Flagstaff, Goldwater was involved in a similar case a decade ago when Phoenix refused Alan Korwin permission to advertise his firearms training effort at city bus shelters. An Arizona court ruled in Korwin’s favor on First Amendment grounds.

Flagstaff officials apparently agreed they had little hope.

“Advertising at the airport is not something we depend on for our revenue stream, really, and I just get a little concerned about people’s interpretation of what may be offensive,” commented city council member Lori Matthews during the November 14 meeting after a presentation by a deputy city attorney about what the city might or might not be able to regulate, advertising-wise. “So, I’m kind of swaying to just opt out of any advertising at the airport.”

“Litigation on this could be very costly,” warned City Manager Greg Clifton, who agreed that advertising should be stopped at the airport as well as at city recreational facilities. “And we’ll quickly exceed any benefit that we realize through the revenues that we’re talking about.”

So, the city council decided that nobody will get to advertise. Well, nobody except for the city’s tax-funded Discover Flagstaff promotion program. That may be a problem.

— J.D. Tuccille in Poised To Lose Battle Over Gun Ads, City Bans All Advertising But Its Own

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37 COMMENTS

  1. The entire air travel industry is a taxpayer subsidized extravagance that could never stand on its own. Just another cog in the “gotta keep the Monopoly money flowing” scheme along with all the cruise, travel, vacation, etc… pieces.

    Refusing to accept private funding for advertising, as miniscule an amount it is, just reinforces the artificiality of the whole scam.

    • Wait until the green/sustainable wackos get they Fed$ for their choochoos flowing. THEN you’re going to see some taxpayer subsidized extravagance that could never stand on its own.

  2. “…not something we depend on for our revenue stream…”

    It’s a safe bet that it’s enough that they’ll find another way to make up for the loss. Increased leasing costs for vendors, higher parking fees, ticket surcharges, a tax levy, etc. Bureaucrats don’t like to go backwards when it comes to budgets and the size of their fiefdom.

  3. Don’t give the smallest damn that someone might find gun ads offensive. As a Christian, I find abortion offensive, but ads are everywhere. I find homosexuality offensive, but talk, articles, and ads are everywhere. I find socialism offensive, but a major political party in this country pushes socialistic ideas. I find the current official and unofficial attitudes on race relations highly offensive, but every talking head in the nation insists that white men are evil, and that feelz and ‘lived experience’ takes priority over facts. I find equal employment policies to be offensive, but most of the nation lives by the policy.

    Guns are offensive to you? Get used to it. There is no constitutional guarantee that you can live your life offense free. There is, however, a constitutional guarantee that I can keep my guns, and I can talk about whatever the hell I want to talk about. Freedom of speech, remember? The same freedom you take advantage of to convince children to have gender change operations.

    Now, kindly fÜck off and die, you authoritarian arseholes.

      • Being offended aint the same as finding something offensive.
        The first requires being involved while the second just requires eyes and/or ears.

      • JG, I don’t think these people are offended. They are using a word, “offended” because it is the only word they can come up with.
        Offended, my ass, the fact that they proclaim they are offended reveals their prejudice and gross stupidity. If an advertising sign offends them, then they need to stay home with their head in the toilet.

  4. City of Flagstaff Didn’t Want 1st Amendment in Their Airport So They Banned All 1st Amendment Except Their Own.

    First, is it really ‘their’ airport:

    Its not their ‘airport’, they just run it and manage it using federal and state and city tax payer dollars. All public property publicly accessible commercial airports in the United States also cede jurisdiction to the U.S. Government. Thus what they are calling ‘their airport’ is also in effect federal and city property (joint jurisdiction – city and federal government) as well as ‘public property’.

    “So, I’m kind of swaying to just opt out of any advertising at the airport.”

    You can’t. It is a violation of federal law and a constitutional violent to deny 1st amendment protected advertising on public property in a commercial venue.

    • If the airport operator decides to not offer advertising space for sale – whether to the public or to municipal departments that want to promote something (the city as a tourist destination), then that is their right.

      However, it’s plain to see that this airport operator (the municipality) WISHES to offer advertising space but is declining to do so because it is unwilling to respect the 1A.

      And, it is discriminating against a Constitutional right. What if the League of Women Voters wanted to post an ad encouraging 18-year-old women to vote? And the municipality refused that ad and refused all ads to avoid respecting those two 1A rights?

      What if the ad promoted some cause, such as objecting to police excessive force? And the municipality didn’t want to offer advertising space to critics of its governance?

      There may be no remedy for this afront to the 1A. But We the People should take notice. They are defying the right of free speech/press.

  5. Seems the predictable trait of people attracted to positions in govt’ (local, state, federal) have a propensity to control everyone’s lives into their worldview.

    • I have no plans to EVER use the Flagstaff airport🙄🤓 Ya know it does my heart good to see billboards advertising gunshops off the streets & highways in Indiana!

  6. And while the flagstaff tyrants are at it why not tidy-up the United States Constitutional and rip away the Second Amendment? Again where there is insane smoke there is insane fire, so much insane fire you’ve got sickos out there who would have no problem putting anyone who says the word gun on trains to Concentration Camps. There is one solution…Abolish Gun Control like its sidekick Slavery.

    • For their blatant Discrimination the flagstaff city council should be court ordered to advertise The Truth About Gun Control…

  7. Advertising deadly weapons is really crass to say the least at a public place, especially with all of the incessant mass murder we have everyday in Capitalvania. The Merchants of Death have no morals or sanity,

    • If so, I could say the same for advertising the artery-clogging excrement that counts as food from most fast food joints or alcohol, one of the primary causes of motor vehicle accidents and death.

    • You daican, are a merchant of death. You advocate for people to be defenseless against the very threat of crime your facilitate by your drive to disarm innocent law abiding Americans.

      he was advertising training, the very thing you anti-gun idiots want people to have. You anti-gun idiots with your mentally ill cult worship of death and harm to innocent people have got to go.

    • dacian, the DUNDERHEAD, Tell us oh Great Sage, how can an inanimate object be “deadly”?

      Oh, by the way, have you ever learned what the firing sequence of a cartridge is?

  8. With the invashun at the sothern AND westurn borrdurr by immies and Callys AZ is slowing eroding into another blue puddle of smurf sh!t!

  9. @TBShoa:
    You all KNOW that fashion is EVERYTHING to me. When those darling boys came out with peestola boolits that looked just like broken screw extractors, my little heart just went pitter patter!
    And the Anti-Boolit Raysisssts HATE the free expression of us Fashionados. AND, they say we all need more boolitational training two.
    We NEED to Free the Mostly Peaceful Advertizing from this Gummint Sponsored Institutional Subterranean Ray Sizzum!
    People now are deathly afraid to speak incorrect words or pronouns, as them things am VIOLENCE. Mebbe we should consider a more simpler society. One that insures the safety of all, and infuriates the delicate rights of nobody:
    To easily identify those who may be offended by words, or the picture of a sidearm, use gubmint money (it’s free!) to buy them (horizontally) polarized sunglasses, that they manditorily wear for their “Protection”. All Public TeeVees will have Vertically polarized screens to protect these hyper-sensitive adult children.
    Then print any and all things each snowflakial citizen is sensitive to in 36-point type on a dayglo yellow card and staple that to their foreheads. NOW, we know their bounds of tolerance without even asking!
    So Free Palistien, Free Radicals,
    Free Fashion and Free Huey!
    Utopia is now here!
    (pitter patter)

  10. But but but where is the ACLU??? The great so-called defender of the First Amendment. The answer is the ACLU was never, ever a supporter of the first amendment.

    They defended pornography advertisement claiming they supported the First Amendment in the 1970s. They never supported advertising firearms at all. They publicly stated in the 1970s that they didn’t support the Second Amendment for an individual right to keep in bare arms.

    The first amendment was not written for your pornography. But if you want your pornography you can certainly have it. Just as if you want to hunt you can certainly do that.
    But the second amendment has nothing to do with hunting.

    The pornography arm argument is just a distraction. A deflection away from your real reason for your First Amendment rights. The left is happy to give you “the right” to hunt. And take away everything else involving the second amendment.

    • I don’t think that the gun controllers are happy to allow hunters their arms. Rather, I think they simply plan to “eat the hunters last.”

      Hunters are a stubborn constituency. And they don’t raise a spector of crime. Only of the offense of being carnivores. And many of gun control’s audience are carnivores. So, to go after the hunters is – for now – a bridge too far.

      They will not allow many hunters to keep arms. That would open a huge “loop-hole”. Anyone could buy a hunting license and claim to be a bona fide “hunter”; he just didn’t have the opportunity to go into the field this year. Nor last year, nor the year before.

      At best, they will allow members of the elite to own only big-game and fowling pieces. A bolt action rifle and a double-barreled shotgun. After paying the appropriate large fee for a license.

  11. At the Nashville Tennessee International airport. You will see these enormous video ads for the gun ranges and the “machine gun experience” for visitors to the city.

  12. Lawyers getting rich using Constitutional Rights as a venue.
    Take away the money and just watch how many jump on the Freedom&Rights Train.

  13. Hmm – so I ‘guess’ that all of the vendors inside the airport are no longer allowed ANY signage hawking their wares? Those signs would be a form of advertising after all…………….

    • This is an excellent point. Maybe McDonalds could have its name and logo in small print above its door, but it couldn’t picture a Big Mac.

      The menu would be suspect. How to distinguish a product+price list without construing it to be an advertisement.

      I don’t see a logical place to draw a line. The airport authority would have a hard time drawing a policy that allows shops to advertise their products/services but not sell the space on unused billboards.

      What if a gun-themed restaurant rented a space and put gun images on its menu? Had replica guns mounted on the walls. Pictures of hunting and target practice scenes.

  14. I wonder how that city would like it if they suddenly received a couple of million phone calls to city numbers like, “Hello, can you tell me where I can buy guns in your city? I can’t find any ads to help me out.”

  15. Darn…I went to college there in the mid-69s, and it was as right wing as you can get. Guess when they stopped the logging industry they turned to the Left. Now just another liberal college town.

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