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California just banned marketing of guns to minors. Hunters’ groups are challenging in court

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill in June banning the marketing of guns to minors in California — and felt so strongly that he issued a video of himself holding an AR-15 and standing in front of an advertisement for a youth weapon.

“Kids should not have one of these,” he said, holding the AR-15 in his arms.

Now the law itself is under attack.

A coalition of sportsmen’s groups sued the state Friday, charging that the new law would cripple a wide range of youth hunting and education programs in California and violates the First and Second amendments.

“Law-abiding young adults have a right to bear arms and maintain proficiency in their use—rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment,” says the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

One of the four groups going to court, a Los Angeles nonprofit called So Cal Top Guns, said “our entire youth education program is on hold because of this law.

“Thousands of kids have learned firearm safety and have competed at local, state and national events for decades — and now that’s all gone,” the group’s president Paul Cain said in a prepared statement.

Multiple conservation groups such as California Waterfowl and the San Diego County Wildlife Federation also opposed the legislation on similar grounds — but they aren’t participants in the just-filed lawsuit.

There are already broad limits on, say, the marketing of tobacco to minors. The new California law, AB 2571, bans any advertising that promotes guns in a way that “appears to be attractive to minors.” Violators can be fined up to $25,000.

Hunters’ groups that filed the lawsuit said the law is wrongheaded. “As a community, hunters have worked for decades to provide hunter safety and education for the next generation of hunters. This law directly undermines a critical community service,” said Ben Cassidy of the Safari Club International, a Washington, D.C.-based hunters’ organization with chapters in California.

In his video, Newsom stood in front an ad from a company called WEE1 Tactical that shows two skulls with pacifiers in their mouths. The ad is for a gun called a JR-15.

“This is what the right wing is marketing and promoting,” Newsom said.

California has enacted more than 100 gun-control laws, more than any other state. But it is frequently challenged in court by gun-rights groups. A federal judge blocked a 2016 voter-approved ban on high-capacity magazines, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals wound up affirming the law.

More recently, California’s concealed-carry law is on thin ice after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in New York. Elected officials rallied around a new version of the law, SB 918, which they believe would survive any legal challenge. The bill passed the Senate but was placed in the suspense file in the Assembly — a legislative procedure that effectively shelves SB 918 for the year.