A federal judge has sided with the First Amendment in a lawsuit against a California fair board that banned gun show and other event organizers from its facilities, which otherwise are available to the public.
U.S. District Judge Cathy Bencivengo issued a temporary order to stop the Del Mar Fair Board from enforcing a recently enacted moratorium on gun shows at the fairgrounds.
Disputes over gun rights typically center on the Second Amendment, which grants Americans the right “to keep and bear arms.” This case, however, focuses on the First.
Alan M. Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, which filed the lawsuit, said he’s “delighted” with the ruling.
“At a time, and in a state, where law-abiding gun owners seem under constant attack, having a federal judge side with our complaint validates our efforts to protect constitutional and civil rights,” he said.
SAF is joined by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, B&L Productions, Inc., Crossroads of the West, South Bay Rod and Gun Club, Maximum Wholesale/Ammo Brothers and five private citizens in the court case.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in San Diego shortly after the restriction was adopted earlier this year. At the time, Gottlieb called the fairground board’s action as “an attempt to marginalize gun owners and exclude them from the public square.”
He said he suspects it is an effort to drive gun shows from public venues altogether.
The complaint alleged the fair was placing “overly burdensome requirements” on those who want to hold gun shows there, imposing an unreasonable restriction on speech.
It alleged the fair purposely violated the free speech rights of the plaintiffs and its actions constitute prior restraint on speech.
At the time, Gottlieb explained: “Crossroads has operated popular gun shows in California, including at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. These gatherings are more than just an opportunity to exhibit, buy and sell firearms, they are opportunities for like-minded citizens to meet and discuss gun safety, firearms politics and current or proposed firearms laws and regulations.”
The “defendants are government actors who have discriminated against and intend to discriminate in the future against plaintiffs by denying them the same access to this public space as other lawful businesses. This discrimination is based on irrational public policies that are based on flawed reasoning and dubious conclusions relating to gun show operations,” the complaint said.