Judge strikes down California ban on storefront handgun ads

Judge strikes down California ban on storefront handgun ads
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A federal judge this week struck down a nearly century-old California law that banned storefront ads for handguns, calling it "unconstitutional on its face."

U.S. District Judge Troy Nunley said the 95-year-old law was a violation of the First Amendment, according to Reuters.

The law barred gun dealers from posting handgun ads or images of handguns outside of their stores, claiming the images could encourage people with "impulsive personality traits" to buy more handguns, the news service reported. The law did not ban ads for other firearms.

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“The government may not restrict speech that persuades adults, who are neither criminals nor suffer from mental illness, from purchasing a legal and constitutionally-protected product, merely because it distrusts their personality trait and the decisions that personality trait may lead them to make later down the road,” Nunley wrote.

Nunley, an appointee of former President Obama, added the law was too narrow and too broad. The judge wrote that firearms dealers could still buy radio or print ads, or could easily buy display neon signs that read "GUNS GUNS GUNS," Reuters reported.

In his decision, Nunley pointed out that one of the plaintiffs had a metal sign shaped like a revolver in the store's parking lot, while another plaintiff had vinyl decals of three handguns on its store windows in 2014, according to the AP.

The ruling came from a 2014 lawsuit brought by gun dealers who were fined over their handgun ads, the Associated Press reported

The state attorney general's office defended the law, but said it is reviewing the decision, the AP reported.

"If you are someone who is providing a constitutionally protected product or service, you should be able to communicate that to people in the same way a bookseller should be able to advertise they sell Bibles and Qurans. Dealers should be able to say they sell handguns," said Brandon Combs, executive director of gun rights group The Calguns Foundation, according to the AP.