The consequences of a California law continue to unfold, harming youth sporting organizations while degrading the First and Second Amendments.
Protect The 1st reported earlier this month on the signing of AB 2571 into law, which prohibits the marketing of firearms or related products in a manner that “reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.” While intended to tamp down on soaring rates of gun violence, this new law has so far curbed wholesome youth groups and sporting activities, along with freedom of expression.
Count among the casualties of extortionate speech penalties is the California State High School Clay Target League. Faced with fines of up to $25,000, the League posted on its website that it has been forced to shutter its service to young Californians.
Another youth target shooting organization, the Scholastic Target Shooting Foundation, has had to put up a warning on its website that reads: “The information on this website is not intended for minor audiences in California. If you are a minor in California, please do not continue to this website.” California is forcing service organizations to silence themselves with a digital gag.
The response of some in Sacramento to the outcry of hundreds of thousands of California youths losing access to a cherished sport shows a lack of knowledge and appreciation for this sport. “Guns are not toys – they are deadly weapons,” said one Assemblymember. “California has some of the strongest gun laws in the country and it is unconscionable that we still allow advertising weapons of war to our children.”
On its website, California State High School Clay Target League president John Nelson countered: “The League is the safest sport in high school. Over 1,500 schools across the nation have approved our program. Hundreds of thousands of students have participated, and there has never been an accident or injury.”
These are not weapons of war, and California high school students won’t be waging one anytime soon. Sporting organizations use scaled-down or modified firearms that are appropriate for younger users. All this law has done so far is criminalize speech in a way that denies safe and supervised sports to youth, while not touching committed gun criminals.