Gun Laws & Legislation

Phoenix Loses “Guns Save Lives” Censorship Case

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PHOENIX–A controversial gun-safety ad campaign is about to return to Phoenix, after the city lost its attempt to censor the project sponsored by a gun-safety training group, TrainMeAZ, LLC.

The Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, which represented TrainMeAZ, LLC, was granted summary judgment for its client Thursday by the Arizona Court of Appeals, preventing Phoenix from blocking the ads. Phoenix had forced them down a mere nine days after they were posted under contract more than three years ago.

The ads feature a large red heart with the words “Guns Save Lives” and the line “Educate Your Kids,” with contact information:

Officials at the time told Alan Korwin, owner of TrainMeAZ, that the message was too controversial and had garnered a complaint, and so had to be removed or changed. In court, the case revolved around the city’s changing standards and the ad’s accompanying small text, designed to motivate bus riders to go to the website and sign up for real firearms-safety training.

Details of the case, including a timeline of events leading up to the censorship, all the court papers, the text of the ad, and photos of the ads on city streets, are available at the website newsroom button.

“Gun-rights advocates nationwide are fond of saying the Second Amendment protects the First Amendment, which is totally true,” Korwin said. “In this case, however, it’s the other way around — free speech and the First Amendment have protected our right to keep and bear arms, and in particular, our right to train our selves and our precious families in real gun safety.”

Read the narrow, unanimous, 17-page decision here:

Statement of Clint Bolick (Goldwater’s lead attorney) on Korwin v. Phoenix ruling:

We are enormously gratified that the Arizona Court of Appeals protected the First Amendment rights of all Arizonans by striking down the City of Phoenix’s arbitrary decision to forbid “Guns Save Lives” advertisements at City bus stops.

The City’s rules require ads to “adequately display” a commercial advertisement.  The rules are enforced in haphazard fashion, so that people cannot know which ads will be allowed or censored.  The Court ruled unanimously that the City failed to follow its own rules, given that the ads were designed to encourage viewers to visit a commercial website for firearms training.

It is a shame that the City of Phoenix constantly invites litigation by refusing to adhere to the state and federal constitutions.

We applaud the courage exhibited by our client, Alan Korwin, in standing up for his rights and the rights of fellow Arizonans.  We are grateful to the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which submitted a brief arguing that the City’s policy and actions were unconstitutional.

Editor’s Note: Alan Korwin is a tireless advocate for Second Amendment rights. Alan is the foremost publisher of books on American gun laws. He can be reached through his website

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