Oral Arguments In The ‘Guns Save Lives’ Censorship Case Rests


Guns Save Lives Billboards
Guns Save Lives Billboards: Photos And Montage By John Rosado

PHOENIX, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- [Backgrounder: We put up “Guns Save Lives” billboards on 50 public bus stops under contract, city of Phoenix tore them down, Goldwater Institute is suing on our behalf, ACLU joined as amicus, it’s now going into its 4th year.]

See the ads before they were torn down, and read prior details about the case: https://www.trainmeaz.com/lower-court-censors-trainmeaz/

Our new ads are now getting 1.8 million views daily on Phoenix streets:

So, how’d it go Alan?

No one really knows.

We find out for sure within a month to a year, maybe longer. The appeals court decides when it wants, there is no time frame for the three-judge panel’s opinion (Jones, Norris, Johnsen). This is called “speedy justice.” We’re going into our fourth year of censorship.

I found it a little overwhelming — I thought I knew the issues, it seemed they focused elsewhere. Twenty minutes for each side is a lot when the concentration level is that high. The judges had studied the briefs, conferenced on the issues, knew their stuff, questioned both sides hard, pressed the city on its stance that classifying and censoring speech was just fine.

Alan Korwin in Court
Anticipation built as the courtroom began filling up for the 9:30 a.m. gavel. PHOTO BY BOB BLACKMER

Lawyers for our side, led by Clint Bolick and Christina Sandefur, think we’re looking good, they were pleased with how it went, and I was very happy with their work and performance. The Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation has done outstanding work, long dedicated hours, detailed prep throughout the Thanksgiving Day weekend, I am grateful beyond words. Send them a note of thanks: [email protected] You could even donate a few end-of-year dollars. https://www.goldwaterinstitute.org

Clint opened with three main points (which I’ve expanded here for clarity):

  • (1) The City inverted normal free-speech values, placing commercial speech at the top and political speech at the bottom. (The Constitutions at state and federal level make no such distinctions of course, though precedent and tradition do.)
  • (2) Phoenix took its unconstitutionally vague supposedly objective standards (2009, when our ads went up), turned them into wholly subjective standards in 2011 (while our case was under review), and then applied them arbitrarily (all along, all of which are unconstitutional).
  • (3) The city’s guidelines prohibit eight specific types of ads but do not even mention political speech (which the city claims it can ban at will, for reasons it excuses in its briefs and orally).

For that matter, the standards don’t mention public service ads (PSAs), which the city says are prohibited, but are undefined by them, and are posted all over town. They claim our ads are PSAs, but can’t say how they determine this, or how we or anyone else should, or why all the rest are OK and ours are not (part of the due process and equal protection 14th Amendment challenges).

The courtroom was full, lots of supporters, plenty of press, ACLU folks, and on that score, the case was a success. The phrase “Gun Save Lives” is all over the national media, frequently inside that juicy red heart — this is a message the media almost never voices — so hooray for small victories.

Even “Guns Stop Crime,” our second ad, which we got the city to approve and is now up, got a lot of play. In a show of flexible values, censorship trumped the media’s avowed distaste for the right to arms, and covered the story with full vigor, using a phrase they routinely quash.

Look here:

I never expected any of this when I set out to see the entire state of Arizona trained to arms, following our passage of Constitutional Carry. Building a coalition within the firearms industry, to spread real firearms safety to the state just made sense on so many levels.

The city’s main argument against this shows the true colors of this case. They want to ban political speech from the public eye, on city property. Too controversial they say. A public bus stop is a non-public forum. That’s the heart of their argument. Go read what we said that they want to ban: https://www.trainmeaz.com (it’s the text on the home page). They read part of it in court:

“…The Arizona legislature has enacted vibrant protection of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. We in Arizona seem destined to set models for the nation — in this case, a shining example of gun rights for all free peoples of the Earth. The Grand Canyon State has Constitutional Carry. This frees any law-abiding adult in the state — not just residents — to discreetly enjoy the right to bear arms envisioned in the Constitution…”

This is designed to educate and motivate people to get training. The city says it shouldn’t be ‘burdened‘ with this sort of thing. They admitted in the hearing — they do not object to the heart and the “Guns Save Lives” part. Good. We’ll use it again.

In advertising, you have features and benefits. All they want to allow (they say now) is a “commercial proposal.” That’s a bright line — you offer something that someone pays for, that’s a commercial proposal. They have ads all over with none of that (free pregnancy test, free veterans counseling, Jesus heals). Our says Guns Save Lives, Educate Your Kids, and you pay for the training and range time at TrainMeAZ.com. We qualify. Parents come along with the kids, and do the paying. It’s clever. It’s an ad. The red Guns Save Lives heart is the headline that attracts your attention to the ad. Their inconsistency is part of our 14th Amendment equal-protection challenge.

Jesus Heals
City policy says bus-stop ads must “propose a commercial transaction.” The proposal must be “adequately displayed.” We can’t find one here. Can you?

The idea that I can’t build a case for taking training by pointing out that our own legislature has enacted supportive laws for our product (real gun safety), and that our nation is built upon our product (firearms), and that our product makes sense (marksmanship) — that’s offensive, that’s outrageous, that must end, in my opinion. What will the court think. We wait to see.

They city, and no government, should be in charge of what we say or how we say it. Whether it is constitutionally protected political speech, lawful commerce between the states (doesn’t firearm training affect interstate commerce?), or anything else we have a mind to say, our right to say it must stand above the city’s petty word mongers.

Guns Save Lives
Guns Save Lives

The legal minds see the case coming down to whether the city has legitimate power (sometimes absurdly expressed as “a right” but it’s really about legitimate delegated power) to control the words people can use. They want to restrict you to commercial speech, and ban political speech. They have their reasons, and argue for them.

Then they sit in judgment and pronounce the words we used as political and subject to censorship. That’s not their job, and they have no power to do that, not in my book. I say all the words used are designed to convince the reader to buy the product — firearms safety training. We build the case, convince, urge, argue, do everything to compel the reader that it make sense and you should buy. This is about business — who are they to call the sales copy a political “diatribe” (they did).

In the meanwhile, trainers are signing up to offer their services at TrainMeAZ.com, and we encourage you to do so if you are in Arizona. It’s free, supported by our sponsors:

Someone’s got to say it.

  • Gun save lives.
  • Guns stop crime.
  • Guns protect you.
  • Guns are why America is still free.

The “news” media and edutainment camps certainly aren’t getting the message out. Because The N.Y. Times carried the story, their readers saw this phrase, which for some of them may have been their first time ever.

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