In what can only be regarded as a win for firearm retailers in the state of California, Judge Troy L. Nunley, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of California, issued a decision on September 11, 2018, in which he concluded a California statute prohibiting firearm retailers from on-site advertising of handguns violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. 
The statute at issue, California Penal Code § 26820, provided that: “No handgun or imitation handgun, or placard advertising the sale or other transfer thereof, shall be displayed in any part of the premises where it can readily be seen from the outside.”  The California DOJ issued citations to several firearms retailers for violating the statute, based on items such as a metal sign shaped like a revolver in a parking lot, vinyl decals depicting handguns on store windows, and a logo depicting the outline of a revolver on the exterior of a store.  The retailers collectively filed a lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the statute violated their constitutional right to free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
In opposition to the lawsuit, the state argued that the statute directly advanced its interest in reducing handgun-related suicides and crime by inhibiting handgun purchases by people with impulsive personality traits.  As noted by the Court, “the Government’s theory [was] essentially that an impulsive person will see a handgun sign outside a store, will impulsively buy the gun … and then, at some unspecified future time likely years later, the person’s impulsive temperament will lead him to impulsively misuse the handgun that he bought in response to seeing the sign.” 
In rejecting this argument, Judge Nunley stated that “the Government may not restrict speech that persuades adults, who are neither criminals nor suffer from mental illness, from purchasing a legal and constitutionally-protected product, merely because it distrusts their personality trait and the decision that personality trait may lead them to make later on down the road.”  The Court also noted that, not only did the state fail to provide any evidence showing the statute had any effect on reducing handgun suicide or crime, but also that it could further its interests simply by enforcing other statutes currently in existence.  All of this combined to lead to the Court’s conclusion that the statute violated the retailers’ right to free speech under the First Amendment.
When asked for comment by news outlets, the state did not immediately indicate whether it planned to appeal the Court’s ruling.  We will continue to monitor the status of this lawsuit.