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A federal appeals court has upheld a California law that prohibits gun shows from being held at county fairs

State Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, listens as lawmakers discuss a bill (Via Ron Baker/Shutterstock)

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court upheld California’s prohibition of gun shows at county fairs and other public venues, ruling that these laws do not infringe on the rights of those selling or buying firearms.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ unanimous 3-0 decision overturned a federal judge’s previous ruling from October, which had temporarily blocked the laws.

These measures were authored by Democratic state Senator Dave Min. The first law, effective from January 2022, banned gun shows at the Orange County Fair, while the second law, enacted last year, extended this prohibition to county fairgrounds on state-owned property.

Last autumn, U.S. District Judge Mark Holcomb argued that the state was violating sellers’ and buyers’ rights by preventing firearm transactions that are otherwise permissible at any licensed gun store. He asserted that lawful gun sales involve commercial speech protected by the First Amendment.

Pedestrians on the famous Las Vegas sign (Via Sam Kingsley/Shutterstock)

However, the appeals court determined that these laws specifically prohibit sales transactions on public property, without impacting discussions, advertisements, or other forms of speech about firearms. Judge Richard Clifton, in Tuesday’s ruling, clarified that the bans “do not directly or inevitably restrict any expressive activity.”

California’s Attorney General Rob Bonta, who defended the laws in court, praised the court’s decision. He emphasized, “Guns should not be sold on property owned by the state, it is that simple,” adding that this ruling marks another step in the fight against gun violence.

Gun shows typically draw large crowds of potential buyers to local fairgrounds. However, according to Clifton, under a different state law not challenged in this case, the actual purchase of a firearm at a gun show must occur at a licensed gun store after a 10-day waiting period and a background check.

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