Gun-rights cases are all about the Second Amendment, right?
A lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation, however, accuses the Del Mar Fairgrounds board in Southern California of violating the First Amendment.
The board is placing “overly burdensome requirements” on those who want to hold gun shows at the site, the complaint contends, arguing it amounts to an unreasonable restriction on speech.
SAF is joined in the case by B&L Productions, Crossroads of the West, the California Rifle & Pistol Association and several individuals.
The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
A 41-page filing alleges Del Mar Fairgrounds purposely violates the free speech rights of the plaintiffs and constitutes prior restraint on speech, along with the equal protection of the plaintiffs.
“For more than 30 years,” said SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb, “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.”
He said, however, that the Del Mar Fair Board “has imposed excessive requirements beyond what show promoters and operators must already comply with under the law.”
“We believe this was done in an effort to drive out gun shows altogether from the fairgrounds.”
He contended a new attempt is being made to “marginalize gun owners and exclude them from the public square.”
“We do not intend to allow that and have joined with our partners in this legal action to prevent it from happening,” he said.
The complaint also alleges violations of the right to assembly and of equal protection. It seeks injunctions against the discrimination as well as “damages according to proof” and punitive damages because of “malice, oppression, and wanton disregard for the law.”
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.”
Among other cases, SAF has sued states for depriving foster parents of their Second Amendment rights. It challenged California’s decision to ignore Second Amendment rulings from courts in other states, advocates for concealed carry provisions and protests unwieldy “waiting” provisions in state gun laws as well as limits on the size of magazines.