Petty Tyrants In Arizona Capital Blocks Local Firearms Dealer From Making Ads

For several years, Timberline Firearms and Training in Flagstaff has bought advertising at the Flagstaff Airport. Thanks to the advertising, visitors and locals knew about the store and the indoor shooting range facility when they passed through the baggage claim area.

However, that changed in 2023 when the city government rejected Timberline’s continued ad placement on the basis that it “depicts violence.” Funny enough, F Riehl of AmmoLand noted that the ad “shows happy customers holding firearms and an instructor working with a student at their indoor range.”

Timberline owner Rob Wilson, who is also a member of Arizona Citizens Defense League (AzCDL), tried to appeal the decision. The problem here is that the city does not have a procedure for appeals. Worse yet, the city is now putting forward a new advertising policy that bans the following: 

“Advertising that promotes, solicits, depicts, or markets the sale, use, rental, distribution, or availability of firearms, ammunition, or related goods or services.”

Wilson has pushed back against this anti-gun by attending a city council meeting to voice his displeasure on the matter. 

Arizona Citizens Defense League has already taken a look at the proposed changes to advertising policy and discovered that these policy proposals violate several provisions of state law.

Generally speaking, Arizona municipalities cannot prohibit advertising for a legal business, with a few exceptions. They can regulate the lighting, size, and spacing of outdoor advertising signs plastered on highways and roads under certain conditions. However, this does not give them the power to prohibit advertising completely. On top of that, they cannot mandate pre-approval for advertising content. The only exception is the case of insurance administrators. On top of that, state law spells out that municipalities cannot prohibit advertising for a legal business unless they can demonstrate that it poses a threat to public health and safety. Timberline does not pose a threat to anyone.

According to precedents established by the United States Supreme Court, the 1st Amendment protects commercial speech. In effect, public transit systems that feature public forums cannot bar speakers based on their ideological orientation. Moreover, the Supreme Court determined that categorical prohibitions on the advertising of certain products or services will unlikely survive judicial scrutiny.

Similarly, such proposals put forward by the Flagstaff City Council could potentially violate the state’s firearms preemption law. AzCDL is of the view that Flagstaff’s attempt to ban firearm advertising is unconstitutional and is firmly against these news sets of proposals. 

Arizona is one of the most pro-gun states in the nation. Per Guns & Ammo magazine’s best states for gun rankings, Arizona is ranked in 5th place. Such a strong pro-gun profile has not deterred the gun controllers from trying to impose their anti-freedom agenda. 

Yet again, we see another case of anti-gunners trying to subvert gun rights at the local level. Such developments will require the Right to start mobilizing and getting more active in their local politics. If we can’t keep our backyards safe from tyrants, how can we expect to change gun policy at the national level. 

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