Hunting Coalition Sues California Over Firearm Marketing Law

Sportsmen’s Alliance, Safari Club International, SoCal Top Guns and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation cite violations of well-established and constitutionally protected rights in 1st, 2nd, 5th and 14th Amendments

A coalition of outdoor groups sued the State of California today in federal district court in Sacramento challenging a recently passed law banning the “marketing” of firearms to minors. The legal challenge by Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, SoCal Top Guns, Safari Club International and Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation seeks to protect youth hunting, shooting sports and education in the state.

Although described by Gov. Newsom and supporters as a prohibition on marketing the sale of firearms to youth, the new law goes well beyond direct advertising to include any marketing activity involving firearms and firearm accessories. This includes not only the purchase of firearms, but lawful use. The law’s broad terms also prohibit marketing hunter education, school-sponsored firearms teams, youth hunts, youth camps that include firearms training and even short seminars or “how to” events. The law is so broadly written that it bans social media, leaflets or flyers, videos, magazine articles or any other communication that showcases or illustrates the use of firearms by youth.

Because of its overly broad language, the new law does more than just violate constitutional freedoms – it decimates youth firearms training and education in the state. Whatever the intent of its sponsors, eliminating youth safety programs is the only foreseeable result.

“Our entire youth education program is on hold because of this law,” said Paul Cain, president of So Cal Top Guns. “Thousands of kids have learned firearm safety and have competed at local, state and national events for decades – and now that’s all gone.”

“Whether or not intentional, this poorly written and misguided law is already directly impacting hunting access for young people,” said Ben Cassidy, Safari Club International’s executive vice president of international & public affairs. “As a community, hunters have worked for decades to provide hunter safety and education for the next generation of hunters. This law directly undermines a critical community service.”

Signed by Gov. Newsom on June 30, the law imposes fines of $25,000 per impression, occurrence, or publication of prohibited communications. Introduced by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, the law casts a wide net over any youth program that promotes the use of firearms by a member of the “firearm industry.”

The bill defines “firearm industry” broadly to include organizations formed for the express purpose of “… promoting, encouraging, or advocating for the purchase, use, or ownership of firearm-related products,” which could encompass any organization conducting hunter- and firearm-education classes or youth hunts and shooting matches of any kind. Many conservation organizations hold summer camps that include hunter education or firearm-safety training – all would likely run afoul of the new law.

“This law is a prime example of rushing action without fully understanding the consequences,” said Jeff Crane, president & CEO of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “By significantly impacting the sporting-conservation community’s ability to effectively recruit and train the next generation of sportsmen and women, this law will have far-reaching consequences on the very funding structure that underwrites the conservation of California’s wildlife and their habitats. All people of the state, not just hunters, should be outraged that this law is now on the books.”

“This law is a travesty that clearly violates several constitutional protections at once, while, ironically, undermining well established safety programs and education,” said Todd Adkins, Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president of government affairs. “In their haste to politicize firearms, Gov. Newsom and the legislature have destroyed youth education and firearm-safety programs that have long been supported by Californians.”

While the new law does not prohibit activities themselves, the result is a de facto ban because it is difficult to hold youth camps, competitions, clinics or hunter education classes without some form of promotion of these events.

“The law and intent of its author and Gov. Newsom is clearly discriminatory and meant to destroy our hunting heritage,” continued Cassidy. “The conservation community has a long history of protecting hunting while encouraging safe and responsible firearms use. We are proud to continue this tradition by fighting this irrational and unconstitutional overreach by Gov. Newsom and his supporters.”

  • Media Contacts
    • Brian Lynn, Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, 614-669-5415, blynn@sportsmensalliance.org
    • Leslie Garrett, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, 202-543-6850 x17, lgarrett@congressionalsportsmen.org
    • Robert Brooks, Safari Club International, 202-347-7947 ext. 254, litigation@safariclub.org

About SoCal Top Guns: A 501(c) 3 non-profit located in Los Angeles County, Calif., So Cal Top Guns promotes firearms awareness, safety and education through a competitive youth shotgun shooting program. Thousands of children have learned proper firearms training while competing at local, state, regional and national levels, including 259 that have become All-Americans. The coaching philosophy is based on good sportsmanship, good manners, and respect for firearms and the shooting sports. So Cal Top Guns’ shooters are known throughout the country for their outstanding attitudes and shooting etiquette. So Cal Top Guns programs are supported by the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Amateur Trap Shooters Association, the National Skeet Shooters Association and the National Sporting Clays Association.

About Safari Club International: For 50 years, Safari Club International (SCI) has been the leading defender of the freedom to hunt and supporter of wildlife conservation worldwide.  SCI is unique in the scope of our ability to defend and advance our freedom to hunt. SCI is the only hunting rights organization with a Washington, D.C.- based international advocacy team and an all-species focus. SCI mobilizes our 152 chapters and affiliate network representing 7.2 million hunters around the world. The conservation projects of SCI’s sister organization, the SCI Foundation, support research, management and rural communities in North America, Africa and Central Asia. In addition, SCI’s Annual Hunters’ Convention is the world’s largest marketplace that celebrates our freedom to hunt. For more information, please visit www.safariclub.org

About Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation: Founded in 1989, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF) is the informed authority across outdoor issues and serves as the primary conduit for influencing public policy. Working with the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (CSC), the Governors Sportsmen's Caucus (GSC), and the National Assembly of Sportsmen's Caucuses (NASC), CSF gives a voice to hunters, anglers, recreational shooters, and trappers on Capitol hill and throughout state capitols advocating on vital outdoor issues that are the backbone of our nation's conservation legacy. For more information on CSF's policy work, visit www.congressionalsportsmen.org.

About Sportsmen’s Alliance: Working in all 50 state legislatures, the Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing, trapping and recreational shooting – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public and youth education, legal defense in state and federal court and research to guide the decision-making process of all involved. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance as www.sportsmensalliangce.org, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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