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Judge Tosses 95-Year-Old California Law Banning Handguns In Ads

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California gun sellers have won a court battle that make it easier for them to sell their wares, they say.

A federal judge on Tuesday overturned a nearly 100-year-old law banning firearms dealers from using images of handguns to advertise.

"It's a clear violation of the First Amendment, you know, advertising. It's censoring," said Rob Adams.

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He owns the Sacramento Black Rifle Shop in Citrus Heights. The store's logo has a pistol embedded in the R.

"We never personally never knew that we were breaking state statute," he said.

Under that rule, rifles are fine, but no stores can use a handgun for advertising purposes.

"Previous to today, we weren't allowed to use any type of literature pictures or anything outside within the public's view," he said.

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Adams and the owners of a Tracy business filed suit after they found they were breaking the law.

"We were all in violation just not knowing it. It's just an archaic law that nobody knew was on the books," he said.

In 1923, the law passed to prevent the "impulsive purchase" of a handgun with hopes of protecting violence and suicides. But the court found there are already provisions in place, like a 10-day wait and serious background checks.

"There is a lot of layers there before you can even take home your handgun," Adams added.

In a 15-page judgment, a federal judge found the law was unconstitutional.

"California may not accomplish its goals by violating the First Amendment," written in the summary by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley.

"The state has 30 days to appeal it, which I'm sure they will and they will just lose again," said Adams. "Four years of litigation on something that's a nothing, First Amendment issue, not a gun issue."

It's a gun battle they've won for now and Adams believes is right on target.

"We are going to advertise like crazy now. All of this is going to be changed within the next week," he said.

The attorney general's office says it's reviewing the judge's decision and had no comment about an appeal.

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