"Commercial" Free Speech

What is ‘commercial free speech’. I don’t think it is what I hear mostly on the radio.

From the Berkeley Daily Planet “Bay Briefs”:

SANTA ROSA – The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors narrowly approved an ordinance Tujesday that will ban the possession of firearms, with some exceptions, on county property.

The ordinance, which takes effect in 30 days, was initially proposed to ban gun show sales. But because a U. S. District Court said gun shows are commercial free speech, the ordinance adopted by the board is modeled after one in Alameda County that prohibits possession of firearms on any county property.

So much today is rammed under the U. S. Constitutional term ‘free speech’. Have courts used a term designating any activities as ‘commercial free speech’ and does this differ from other types of “free speech”. Does anyone know if the referenced federal distric court decision is a published one, and if so, what its cite is – or otherwise know something of its wording and whether any appeal of it is underway or contemplated?

Ray (resident of Alameda Co., CA.US and abhorrent of the gun lobby)

Under current interpretations of the First Amendment, restrictions on commercial speech are easier to justify than restrictions on non-commercial speech.

For example, if I want to put a sign on my lawn which says “Vote for Rostenkowski” or “Free the Park Ridge Seven”, it’s harder for the government to stop me. (Typically, municipalities have zoning ordinances which restrict signs.) On the other hand, if I want to put a billboard on my lawn which advertises my groundhog extermination business, the government can more easily stand in my way.

Although this oversimplifies the law, I hope it answers your question.

As far as the case, I’ll see if I can track it down later.

Please do.
A gun show is not banned because it is commercial free speech…
It sounds like you’re using the first amendment to enforce the second amendment.

I’m going to take a guess here (I can’t find the case in question) and say that two things are likely true:

  1. The district court didn’t really say the gun show itself (buying and selling guns) was ‘commercial speech’;

  2. The original ordinance must have had some provisions that would have limited the advertisement of gun sales; that would be commercial speech; and

  3. The reporter didn’t bother to get all the details of either the case, or the ordinance as proposed, so doesn’t really understand why the county’s counsel advised the supervisors to change the provision.

Of course, I’ve seen federal district court judges do some amazingly silly things in my day…