BELLEVUE, WA – A California State Supreme Court ruling today that allows banning of gun shows on county fairgrounds and other government property defies federal court precedent and violates the First Amendment, said Joe Waldron, executive director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA).
“Federal courts in California and elsewhere have already ruled that gun shows are a protected form of commercial free speech,” Waldron stated. “The California Supreme Court, with this decision, has cavalierly decided that the First Amendment does not apply in the Golden State after all.”
Waldron pointed specifically to the 9th Circuit Court decision in Nordyke v. Santa Clara County (1997) and Silverado Promotions v. Montgomery County, in which federal district courts ruled in favor of gun shows.
The California case stems from a request by a federal appeals court to the California Supreme Court, asking state justices to intervene when federal judges could not be certain how to interpret California law. The state High Court’s 6-1 decision upheld a lower court ruling that allows bans on guns at flea markets in Alameda and Los Angeles counties.
“Specifically in the Nordyke case against Santa Clara County, the 9th District Court ruled that gun shows are constitutionally protected commercial free speech,” Waldron stressed. “This case has everything to do with the First Amendment, and protecting the right of gun owners to freely associate with one another.”
He said the ruling sets a dangerous precedent for the rights of any organization to hold gatherings on public property, especially when the gathering involves something as politically incorrect as a gun show.
“Public property is there for everyone’s use,” he stated, “not just individuals and organizations that are involved in activities that are politically correct. The boundary of political correctness is subject to change with public whim, but Constitutional rights must be protected to a higher standard. Sadly, California’s High Court thinks otherwise.”