If you’ve visited many websites that feature guns or shooting related content, you’ve probably noticed a proliferation of “splash pages” requiring you to verify the fact you’re over the age of 21 before you’re actually allowed into the website content.
It’s not all that unusual for liquor manufacturers to have such “splash” pages…after all, they’re not allowed to sell their products to minors.
t’s not unusual to see the requirement that the visitor is “of age” when visiting a liquor manufacturer’s website. But California’s AB2571 passed last year has introduced that complication into the firearms industry. Of course, it comes with “unexpected” complications for many other organizations that don’t manufacture anything.
But seeing them when you’re visiting a website to collect product information or are simply looking to see what’s out there in the gun industry is a relatively new development. And it’s not a change for the better. In fact, it’s created all forms of chaos for everyone from gun companies to the many youth shooting sports organizations. They’ve been forced -not compelled- to change the way they approach web visitors.
The whole stir is due to a California statute passed late last year. California AB2571 has prohibitions on “marketing” firearms and firearms accessories to minors. And the penalties for violating that statue can go as $25,000 per occurrence.
That’s why many gun companies have pulled down lots of their content that was directed at participants in youth shooting sports activities.
It’s also why many of the gun and accessory companies are no longer visible on websites or communications from the myriad of shooting sports organizations they’re still actively supporting.
No one wants to run afoul of AB2571. On the surface, AB2571 seems to be another of those ill-considered laws passed due to a desire to “do something.”
As is often the case, “doing something” has repercussions far beyond their alleged goal.
Having seen plenty of poorly drawn legislation, I use “alleged” because I’ve noticed that sometimes the true goal of what appears to be poorly drawn and seemingly ill-considered legislation is actually designed to accomplish an unstated goal. Since a majority of California’s legislators have made no secret their ultimate goal is to make individual ownership of guns illegal in the state, I’m more than slightly skeptical about the real point of AB2571.
Last Friday, the Sportsmen’s Alliance, Safari Club International and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation appealed an earlier denial of a preliminary injunction they’d filed against AB2571.
They had asked for an injunction against enforcement pending review of the law. Their reasoning? The stiff penalties for violating the statute put many youth-related hunting and education programs at risk.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance, for example, has been unable to expand its high school conservation curriculum Conservation Science into California. It has also been forced to produce separate censored copies of its membership magazines (at great cost, they note) for their members in the state.
If you’re a youth in California, you’re not getting the opportunity to study Conservation Science (top). If you’re a Sportsmen’s Alliance member in California, you’re getting the “censored” edition of your magazine (bottom).
The appeal from the three organizations seeks to overturn the federal district court’s denial of the requested in junction and asks the law be put on hold while underlying questions (like potential violations of the First and Second amendments) can be “reviewed and decided upon.”
"We look forward to the hearing on the preliminary injunction and hope that the 9th Circuit can see its way to understanding how many problems this law creates," says Todd Adkins, vice president of government affairs at the Sportsmen’s Alliance. "We know Gov. Newsom wants to destroy our hunting heritage by making it impossible to recruit new hunters, but we remain hopeful that the court sees this law for what it is, a law replete with violations of the Constitution that should not survive scrutiny.”
Seems logical. But logic seldom trumps emotion.
As always, we’ll keep you posted.
— Jim Shepherd