Ninth Circuit Denies Request to Rehear Panel Decision, Lets Stand Ruling That Gun Ads Ban Is ‘Likely Unconstitutional’

background checks
AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane, File

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied on February 20 a request to rehear en banc a September 2023 three-judge panel ruling that found California’s ban on gun advertisements in junior sports magazines “likely unconstitutional.”

The three-judge panel decision, handed down on September 13, 2023, found no evidence that barring advertisements in the magazines would reduce gun violence among youth.

Judge Kenneth Lee, a Donald Trump appointee, wrote the panel’s majority opinion, noting that the panel’s first conclusion was “that because California permits minors under supervision to possess and use firearms for hunting and other lawful activities, [the Marketing Firearms to Minors Law] facially regulates speech that concerns lawful activity and is not misleading.”

He noted that the panel next concluded:

…that [the Marketing Firearms to Minors Law] does not directly and materially advance California’s substantial interests in reducing gun violence and the unlawful use of firearms by minors. There was no evidence in the record that a minor in California has ever unlawfully bought a gun, let alone because of an ad.

Lee stressed, “California cannot straitjacket the First Amendment by, on the one hand, allowing minors to possess and use firearms and then, on the other hand, banning truthful advertisements about that lawful use of firearms.”

The three-judge panel heard the case on appeal after a district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction against the marketing ban. The three-judge panel reversed the district court’s refusal of a preliminary injunction and remanded the case “for further proceedings consistent with [the panel’s opinion].”

On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit denied a request to step in and rehear the case en banc, which means the three-judge panel’s decision stands as the case will be re-examined by the district court.

The case is Junior Sports Magazines, Inc., v. Bonta, brought by the Second Amendment Foundation and the California Rifle and Pistol Association

Second Amendment Foundation executive director Alan Gottlieb commented on the Ninth Circuit’s refusal to rehear the case en banc, saying, “It seems like it has been forever since the 9th Circuit has refused to hear a gun case en banc. Hopefully this is a new trend.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a pro-staffer for Pulsar Night Vision. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010 and holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at Reach him directly at


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.