|On June 30, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2571 into law. AB 2571 makes it unlawful for any “firearm industry member” to “advertise, market, or arrange for placement of an advertising or marketing communication concerning any firearm-related product in a manner that is designed, intended or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.” AB 2571 also prohibits a “firearm industry member from using, disclosing, or compiling a minor’s personal information if it is intended to market or advertise a firearm to that minor.” A violation of the new law would impose a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation. In addition, in an effort to negate the immunity provided by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”) when industry members’ products are misused, the law authorizes a private person harmed by the misuse to file a lawsuit to recover damages against a manufacturer of the firearm for a violation of this marketing statute. |
AB 2571 is exceptionally vague and may be subject to different interpretations with respect to the term “attractive to minors.” It provides some guidance on what may be considered a violation, including advertising that:
(A) Uses caricatures that reasonably appear to be minors or cartoon characters to promote firearm-related products.
(B) Offers brand name merchandise for minors, including, but not limited to, hats, t-shirts, or other clothing, or toys, games, or stuffed animals, that promotes a firearm industry member or firearm-related product.
(C) Offers firearm-related products in sizes, colors, or designs that are specifically designed to be used by, or appeal to, minors.
(D) Is part of a marketing or advertising campaign designed with the intent to appeal to minors.
(E) Uses images or depictions of minors in advertising and marketing materials to depict the use of firearm-related products.
(F) Is placed in a publication created for the purpose of reaching an audience that is predominately composed of minors and not intended for a more general audience composed of adults.
Irrespective of the guidance, AB 2571 does not provide an exhaustive list, and therefore, could subject members of the firearms industry to liability under a broad range of circumstances. This is exceptionally problematic given the fact that although traditional advertising of firearms and/or firearm-related products do not target minors, they may well be considered “attractive to minors,” and traditional multi-generational hunting scenes with persons under the age of 18 often displayed in ads could also be problematic.
On July 8, 2022, several firearm groups acted swiftly and filed a lawsuit (Junior Sports Magazines Inc. et al., v. Bonta) against the Attorney General of California challenging the constitutionality of AB 2571. The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of AB 2571, as well as a declaratory judgment that AB 2571 violates commercial free speech protected by the First Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The lawsuit points out that although state and federal laws prohibit the sale of firearms to minors, California allows minors to legally engage in many shooting activities such as hunting, hunter education, and target shooting. Many of the plaintiffs bringing the lawsuit advertise firearm-related products, including gear and clothing, which depict minors involved in these legal recreational activities in California.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor significant firearms legislation at the federal and state level. If you have any questions concerning firearm related legislation in California and elsewhere, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.