Gun Shows Will Continue To Be Banned at California State Fairs After Pushback

By: Stephanie Bontorin | Published: Jun 13, 2024

On Tuesday, the federal court of appeals upheld California laws banning gun shows at county fairs in a unanimous 3-0 decision.

The ruling will undo the work of a federal judge’s decision in October that blocked the laws. Now, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has finalized its decision that disallowing guns at county fairs does not violate the rights of firearm sellers and buyers.

How Did the Anti-Gun Laws Begin?

Democratic Senator Dave Min was the originator of both laws. In January 2022, the first law prohibited gun shows at the Orange County Fair.

A man wearing a dark grey suit jacket and an orange tie stands in front of a small microphone in a government building

Source: @SenDaveMin/X

Last year, the second law was pushed through to extend the ban into county fair grounds and state-owned land.

Federal Judge Attempted To Dismantle the Laws

Last year, U.S. District Judge Mark Holcomb decided that California was violating the rights of gun sellers and buyers by not allowing purchases of firearms at county fairs.

A close-up of a wooden judge’s gavel


His decision came down to the ability of regular residents to purchase the same firearms at any gun store and that lawful gun sales are protected by the First Amendment (the right to free speech).

California Laws Do Not Ban Discussing Firearms or Sale on Public Property

The court of appeals decided that the laws in California can stand as anyone interested in guns has the right to discuss them in public and purchase them on private property.

A man wearing a red hat fires a gun at marker on an outdoor gun range

Source: Joel Moysuh/Unsplash

One of the judges involved in the case, Richard Clifton, wrote that the ban does not “directly or inevitably restrict any expressive activity.”

Why Were the Laws First Passed?

Gun-control groups have asserted that gun shows deserve to be banned in family-friendly places as their presence poses a danger to children and public safety.

A nighttime scene of a fair ground with two large rides spinning with colorful lights illuminated

Source: Scotty Turner/Unsplash

With mass shootings a part of American culture, many groups opposed to the threat have pushed gun control laws. In California, the laws were passed in order to restrict accessibility to children and enable “straw purchases” for people ineligible from possessing firearms.

Attorney General Agrees That Guns Should Not Be Purchased on State Grounds

Officials involved in the laws agree that they do not stop private citizens from purchasing firearms on private property. California Attorney General Rob Bonta believes that the laws are not unjust or restrictive.

Attorney General Rob Bonta standing with a group of people

Source: @AGRobBonta/X

He said about the ruling that “Guns should not be sold on property owned in the state, is is that simple. This is another victory in the battle against gun violence in our state and country.”


Gun Purchases Would Still Need To Be Finalized in Store

In other states that allow gun shows at county fairs, final purchases still need to be made in-store 10 days after the initial inquisition.

A man holding a machine gun and wearing headphones at an indoor gun range

Source: Logan Weaver/Unsplash

Aside from California’s specific gun laws, anyone purchasing a firearm is required to meet certain restrictions and pass a mandatory waiting period.


Lawsuit Originally Filed by Gun Show Company

B&L Production, a gun show company, sued the state of California over the ban on fairgrounds, citing a violation of the Second Amendment.

A man holding a large machine gun

Source: Gerson Martins/Unsplash

The appeals court failed to agree with the company, citing the ability to buy guns at six nearby stores around the Orange County Fairgrounds.


California Rifle & Pistol Association Was Banking On the Rule Being Overturned

Attorney Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, said that the ruling should be appealed in the state and that it wouldn’t hold up on a federal scale.

A man wearing a cowboy hat and Sheriff uniform carries a large machine gun through a city street

Source: @joncoopertwee/X

In a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle, Michel said that “CRPA will continue to protect the despised gun culture and fight back against an overreaching government that seeks to limit disfavored fundamental rights and discriminate against certain groups of people on state property.”


California Dems Are Happy the Law Has Held Up

On Tuesday, following the final decision, Senator Min applauded the court’s choice to uphold the law.

Sen. Dave Min wears a dark suit and walks along a path lined with American flags with his wife and three children

Source: @SenDaveMin/X

He noted that the decision will continue to keep California’s safe when entering public places.


The reality of the laws is that they are meant to keep residents safe in family-friendly places. With the extreme uptick in gun violence in the United States, many lawmakers take the matter seriously and are willing to upset a few to increase the safety of many.

An upward view of a large spinning ride

Source: Erika Fletcher/Unsplash

“I hope that in my lifetime, we will return to being a society where people’s lives are valued more than guns, and where gun violence incidents are rare and shocking rather than commonplace as they are today,” Min said.


Gun Shows Are Allowed in Most State Fairs Around the Country

Aside from California, most other states have not passed similar laws.

A view of a state fair late at night with a large illuminated ride moving

Source: Kevin Jarrett/Unsplash

Even in majority democratic states like New York, gun shows are still allowed at county and state fairs.