California Attorney General and U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris (D) has decided to defend a century-old ban against handgun advertising that likely violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution–as a way of violating the Second.
On November 11, Breitbart News reported that a group of California gun store owners had filed suit against a state ban on handgun advertisements.
The ban–instituted in 1923–bars gun store owners from advertising handguns in a way that it visible from outside the store, but allows them advertise AR-15s and shotguns with no problem.
At the time of the Breitbart News report it was not clear whether California Attorney General Kamala Harris would bother defending the ban, but it is now clear that Harris will defend it on the supposed grounds that it serves to “dampen demand” for “impulse” purchases.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Harris said:
Those people, who otherwise might not enter the store, might respond on impulse to an advertisement in the store by entering and purchasing a handgun–indeed, that is the self-evident purpose of that kind of advertising, to draw people in and induce them to purchase a handgun.
She then acknowledged that the law is being challenged on First Amendment grounds and added: “The Supreme Court has long held that the government may restrict advertising in order to dampen demand, and thereby advance a substantial government interest.”
Harris has tried to show that the purpose of the 1923 law was tied to “disarming the lawless.” But the plaintiffs in the case argue that the “principle reason” for the law was for “disarming immigrants.”
On March 10, Breitbart News noted that College of Western Idaho history instructor Clayton Cramer had explained that California’s difficult concealed carry law is also rooted in the passage of laws in 1923 that were put in place to “disarm Chinese and [Hispanic] immigrants.”
Earlier this year, Harris was the first candidate to declare for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated in 2017 by retiring liberal Democrat Barbara Boxer.
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