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California

Federal judge halts enforcement of L.A.'s NRA disclosure law

Mitch O’Farrell
L.A. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell pushed for a law that requires companies seeking business with the city to disclose ties with the National Rifle Assn.
(Francine Orr/ Los Angeles Times)

A federal judge has blocked Los Angeles from enforcing a law requiring companies that seek contracts with the city to disclose whether they have ties to the National Rifle Assn.

The preliminary injunction issued Wednesday marks an initial victory for the gun rights group, which sued the city earlier this year over the law.

The City Council in February moved to require prospective contractors to disclose under affidavit any contracts or sponsorships they or their subsidiaries have with the NRA. The city has similar policies about companies involved in the construction of President Trump’s proposed border wall and over the historic investment in or profits from slavery.

City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell championed the law, citing the mass shootings seen across the country and told reporters earlier this year that the NRA has “been a road block to gun safety reform at every level of government now for several decades.”

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The NRA argued the law violates the 1st Amendment right to free speech and association and the 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law. The suit was filed on behalf of the NRA, including a John Doe, who is described in court documents as an NRA member and business operator with several L.A. city contracts.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson wrote in his ruling Wednesday that “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.”

“As predicted, the court confirmed that the 1st Amendment prohibits politicians from censoring the NRA‘s message of freedom, safety and self-reliance, and the city cannot discriminate against those who support the NRA’s efforts,” NRA attorney Chuck Michel said Thursday.

O’Farrell said his office is consulting with the city attorney’s office on the next steps. “Our initiative provides transparency and allows the taxpayer to know how and where their monies are being spent,” O’Farrell said.

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The disclosure law contains more than a dozen exemptions, including contracts involving the city’s pension funds and other investment agreements.

Some L.A. neighborhood groups opposed the city’s passage of the law. The Studio City Neighborhood Council said in a statement submitted to the council that while “stakeholders are concerned about gun violence,” singling out an organization “smacks of politics, makes little sense and could result in unwanted legal costs.”

The city attorney’s office is reviewing the ruling and will consult with the City Council on the to next steps, said spokesman Rob Wilcox.


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