‘Guns Save Lives’ Censorship Opposed – In Court

‘Guns Save Lives’ Censorship Opposed – In Court

Guns Save Lives Billboard
This particular billboard is posted at Deer Valley Rd. and 16th Street, approaching the Deer Valley Airport. It escaped censorship because it is not a Phoenix bus stop.

PHOENIX, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- The lamestream media told you: The city of Phoenix has censored 50 ads for the educational program of a local gun-safety training association, TrainMeAZ.com. We oppose censorship in all its forms.

The Uninvited Ombudsman notes however that: Although the “news” media steadfastly censors news about firearms, self-defense cases, new firearm products, the shooting sports and basically anything that confirms that guns are good, save lives, stop crime, and help keep America free — the media is intolerant of censorship by government, and in this case it’s a good thing.

On May 11, the The Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation filed a free-speech lawsuit against Phoenix. The city has until the end of the month to respond, seek a dismissal or default in the case. Experts agree the city faces serious hurdles, but it now looks like they will object to the suit, moving the case along.

The city changed its rules for bus-shelter advertising in March, after the censorship occured, but the new rules are pretty much just as vague as before, pose similar violations of free-speech guarantees and will not affect the suit. The new city rules for limiting speech in public are posted here, along with full background on the case: www.gunlaws.com/TMA-Lawsuit.htm

I expect the city to repeat its claim that advertising at a public transit shelter is a non-public place. It doesn’t make good sense, just like you I know that, but what do you expect from city (or any) government run by HINOs (humans in name only). That’s part of our challenge. After the city responds, we’ll have 40 days for the next step in the process.

Clint Bolick, the Scharf-Norton Center’s chief litigator, explained the problem in simple terms:

If you drive around the city of Phoenix, you’ll likely see at least one poster advertisement at a public bus shelter. Some ads show a juicy hamburger and the logo of a well-known fast-food restaurant. Other ads show tastefully designed wedding rings and the name of a jewelry story.

Imagine if a bureaucrat from the city of Phoenix woke up today and decided to pull down those ads because they don’t actually say “buy a hamburger” or a wedding ring. That happened last year to another local business, TrainMeAz; a website that connects customers with trainers to learn self-defense and marksmanship skills. The city of Phoenix removed the ads for TrainMeAz after they had been on display for a week because the public transit director decided they didn’t “propose a commercial transaction.”

Phoenix officials can oversee the content of advertising on city property to prevent obscene material or truly inappropriate messages. But the government has no business approving one company’s approach to advertising and rejecting another based on one bureaucrat’s view of what is a commercial transaction and what is not. The free speech protections of the First Amendment and the Arizona Constitution require the city to enforce clear and objective standards that treat advertisers in a fair and equal manner.

The Arizona Constitution protects free expression to a greater degree than the federal Constitution – it gives every person in the state the right to “freely speak, write and publish.” But the City’s ordinance permits only commercial speech at bus stops, prohibiting all other types of advertisements. This doesn’t comply with the state’s broad speech protections. In Arizona, the government may not favor one type of speech over other types.

Today the Goldwater Institute filed a legal challenge against the city of Phoenix for removing advertising for TrainMeAz at 50 Phoenix bus shelters in October 2010. The Phoenix Public Transit Department cannot explain how the TrainMeAz ads are substantially different than other posters that appear on bus stops including the jewelry store, the fast-food restaurant, and weekend gun shows.

The Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation represents TrainMeAz LLC and company manager Alan Korwin. We are asking a judge to strike down the city rules that govern bus stop advertising so that new rules can be adopted that provide clear standards for the transit department to follow. As an alternative, the courts also could determine that TrainMeAz’s ads never should have been removed.

If this is left unchallenged, there’s a serious risk that bureaucrats will apply their own personal views to determine which ads are accepted or rejected, violating the First Amendment’s protection from arbitrary government censorship. For example, a vegetarian transit official could reject ads featuring hamburgers, or a conservative official could reject ads for businesses associated with liberal causes. Thanks to your support, we are defending the First Amendment rights of business owners.

Follow the case, read the pleadings, get news as it happens: http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/korwinvcotton

FOX-TV Channel 15 in Phoenix did a lopsided story about the case, and it’s nice to be on the lop side for a change, even if it violates ethical journalism. How many ethical violations can you spot in the video?

About GunLaws.com:
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Bloomfield Press, founded in 1988, is the largest publisher and distributor of gun-law books in the country. Our website, gunlaws.com, features a free national directory to gun laws and relevant contacts in all states and federally, along with our unique line of related books and DVDs. “After Your Shoot” for media review is available on request, call 800-707-4020. Our authors are available for interview, call to schedule. Call for cogent positions on gun issues, informed analysis on proposed laws, talk radio that lights up the switchboard, fact sheets and position papers. As we always say, “It doesn’t make sense to own a gun and not know the rules.” Visit: www.gunlaws.com