An effort by the city of Los Angeles to punish the National Rifle Association blew up in the city’s face Tuesday when it was forced to pay $144,234.29 over an anti-NRA law that was struck down.
In 2019, Los Angeles passed an ordinance that required anyone seeking to do business with the city to disclose potential ties they might have to the NRA.
The law had noted that “the city’s residents deserve to know if the City’s public funds are spent on contractors that have contractual or sponsorship ties with the NRA. Public funds provided to such contractors undermines the City’s efforts to legislate and promote gun safety.”
The ordinance was struck down in December by federal district court Judge Stephen Wilson after the NRA sued, arguing a violation of the group’s First Amendment rights.
“In this case, the text of the Ordinance, the Ordinance’s legislative history, and the concurrent public statements made by the Ordinance’s primary legislative sponsor evince a strong intent to suppress the speech of the NRA,” Wilson said.
“Even though the Ordinance only forces disclosure of activity that may not be expressive, the clear purpose of the disclosure is to undermine the NRA’s explicitly political speech.”
On Tuesday, Wilson followed up his ruling by ordering Los Angeles to pay a portion of the NRA’s legal fees, or $144,234.29.
The NRA had originally sought to have the city pay for $472,760.50 in legal fees.
Amy Hunter, a spokeswoman for the NRA, said the ruling and subsequent punishment prove Los Angles was biased in its effort to go after the NRA through businesses.
“Violations of any constitutional rights by government officials should carry consequences,” she told the Washington Free Beacon. “The courts have rightfully imposed those consequences upon Los Angeles. The NRA will continue our fight and, as always, work to hold politicians accountable.”
Although city officials said there was no effort to muzzle the NRA, the judge disagreed.
“The City adopted the Ordinance ‘because of disagreement with the message’ of the NRA and with the explicit intent to suppress that message — the Ordinance should therefore be considered a content-based regulation of speech,” he ruled.
In January, the city repealed the ordinance in question.
“The same city officials who vowed to defend this ordinance are on the run,” Jason Ouimet, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a news release at the time.
“In addition to the NRA members they wronged, city officials must now answer to voters and taxpayers for their failed experiment, and explain why they recklessly subjected the city to legal and financial exposure.
“Facing a trial where they’ll have to account for the unconstitutional ordinance, city officials are trying to mitigate the consequences of their illegal misbehavior,” added Chuck Michel, California counsel to the NRA. “This is another decisive victory for the NRA, which stood and fought for its members’ rights.”
William A. Brewer III, outside counsel to the NRA, said: “Coast to coast, the Association has demonstrated its resolve to hold government actors accountable for their attempts to transgress against the rights of NRA members. The NRA will never stop defending its members and the freedoms they hold so dear.”
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