Michael Baryla, owner of Tracy Rifle and Pistol, is suing California Attorney General Kamala Harris — not for infringing on his Second Amendment rights, but for violating his First Amendment ones.
Baryla and three other gun dealers — Sacramento Black Rifle of Rocklin, PRK Arms of Fresno and Ten Percent Firearms of Taft — filed suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento for imposing “an intolerable burden on the right of firearms dealers to advertise accurate information about the sale of handguns.”
Baryla was issued a citation in September for violating penal code 26820. The law — originally passed into law in 1923, but updated by the legislature in 2010 and 2011 — is one sentence long: “No handgun or imitation handgun, or placard advertising the sale or other transfer thereof, shall be displayed in any part of the premises where it can readily be seen from the outside.”
“I didn’t know it existed,” Baryla said Tuesday. “I didn’t think it was real, so I had to look it up.”
Baryla’s store at 7601 W. 11th St. displays large images of a rifle, three handguns, ammunition and various gun accessories. Only the images of the handguns violate the law.
“People driving by, signs might be hard to read, but those pictures of guns really stand out,” he said of why he covered his windows in images when he opened at the location in May.
Two inspectors for the Bureau of Firearms within the Department of Justice issued the citation after a weeklong inspection of Tracy Rifle and Pistol the week of Sept. 12. The bureau conducts unannounced inspections of every California gun seller at least once a year.
The Department of Justice would not comment on the case or their procedures for inspecting gun stores. The citation gave Baryla until Feb. 11 to remove the images.
“We’re already controlled in what we can do, what we can sell, how we can sell from a Second Amendment standpoint,” Baryla said. “From a First Amendment standpoint, not to be able to advertise what’s inside the building on the outside of the building just seems silly to me.”
Baryla is on the board of directors of a California firearms trade organization called CalFFL — FFL refers to a federal firearms license — which is helping pay for the federal lawsuit. The Tracy gun dealer said donations to CalFFL are also helping defray his legal costs.
His goal is simple: “Ideally, throw out the law. First, stop enforcement of it, and get it off the books.”
Baryla said he just wanted to be able to exercise the same free speech any business is entitled to when advertising.
“I think it’s just a flagrant stomping on First Amendment rights. That’s the best way to put it,” he said.
As of Thursday, there was no hearing for the case yet scheduled in federal court.