Federal court upholds California law to ban gun shows at county fairs

Tuesday’s decision bans gun shows at county fairgrounds on state-owned lands.

A federal appeals court upheld California’s ban on gun shows at county fairs and other public properties, ruling that the laws do not violate the rights of firearm sellers or buyers.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 3-0 decision to overturn a federal judge’s ruling that had previously rejected the laws. 


Driving the news: The laws were written by Democratic state Sen. Dave Min and were aimed at prohibiting gun shows at the Orange County Fair and county fairgrounds on state-owned land.

  • U.S. District Judge Mark Holcomb’s previous ruling in October, which blocked the laws, claimed that the state was violating the rights of sellers and buyers by prohibiting transactions for firearms that could be bought at any gun shop.

The big picture: However, the appeals court found that the laws only prohibit sales agreements on public property, not discussions, advertisements, or other speech about firearms, and therefore do not restrict expressive activity.

  • The appeals court pointed out that under a separate state law, the actual purchase of a firearm at a gun show is completed at a licensed gun store after a waiting period and a background check.
  • Gun-control groups have argued that gun shows pose dangers by making weapons attractive to children and enabling “straw purchases” for people ineligible to possess firearms.
  • The lawsuit was filed by a gun show company, B&L Productions, which argued that the ban on fairgrounds sales violated the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

What they’re saying: California Attorney General Rob Bonta defended the laws in court and celebrated the decision. 

  • “Guns should not be sold on property owned by the state, it is that simple,” Bonta said in a statement. “This is another victory in the battle against gun violence in our state and country.”
  • Chuck Michel, the President of the California Rifle and Pistol Association, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the ruling will be appealed. 
  • “CRPA will continue to protect the despised gun culture and fight back against an overreaching government that seeks to limit disfavored fundamental rights and discriminate against certain groups of people on state property,” Michel told the paper. 
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