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Should Pro-gun ads be allowed at Phoenix bus stops?

Front Page News:

"Should pro-gun ads be allowed at Phoenix bus stops?"

asks the Arizona Republic


Censorship Case Advances

"Surprising" Friend of the Court brief filed in support of Korwin's case
April 25, 2013

It made the front page of the B Section on Sunday: "Unlikely allies in firearm ad case" (an accurate headline would be "Unlikely allies ingun-safety ad case" but what can you expect from the "news" these days; we're not advertising firearms). The Goldwater Institute is suing Phoenix for censoring our advertisements, which Phoenix tore down without warning.

The 1st Amendment free-speech issues, and 14th Amendment due process and equal protection violations, attracted nationwide attention. We were just joined in the case by one of the greatest First Amendment advocates there is, the name you know, someone not everyone thinks of as a friend all the time, wait for it... the American Civil Liberties Union.

When it comes to free speech, the ACLU has few equals. They are certainly on the right side of things on this one. I'll have a full report on this soon. (I've been saying that too much lately, a sign that I have too much on my plate.)

Here is the Goldwater Institute news release, followed by a comment of my own. The Arizona Republic's article follows.


From: Lucy Caldwell <>
Date: Apr 15, 2013 3:21 PM
Contact: Lucy Caldwell




Unlikely alliance between organizations highlights case's importance to fundamental freedoms

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Goldwater Institute's appeal in Korwin v. Cotton, a free-speech challenge to Phoenix's transit advertising standards that were applied to remove 50 "Guns Save Live" advertisements from the city's bus shelters.

"This case has profound implications beyond whether Appellants can post their proposed advertisement on City of Phoenix bus shelters," the ACLU's brief argues. "It involves the scope of the Arizona Constitution's grant to all persons the right to freely speak, write and publish on all subjects."

The City's policy forbids non-commercial advertising on city buses and transit shelters. In 2010, plaintiff Alan Korwin and his company, TrainMeAZ, purchased 50 transit shelter ads designed to drive business to their gun-training website. The ads pictured a large heart with "Guns Save Lives," followed by the group's website.

Even though the ads were commercial in nature, the City removed the ads, despite approving "Jesus Heals," Veterans' Administration, and water-conservation advertisements that did not appear to propose a commercial transaction.

"The City's arbitrary decision-making is exactly the type of censorship the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions forbid," said Clint Bolick, Vice President for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute, who characterized the City's policy as "we sort-of know it when we see it."

The Maricopa County Superior Court (a lower court) upheld the City's actions in a 2012 decision. The case is now before the Arizona Court of Appeals.

"This odd-couple alliance between the Goldwater Institute and the ACLU highlights the importance of the case to our fundamental freedoms," said Bolick.

The case is expected to be argued in the Court of Appeals later this year.

A copy of the ACLU amicus brief can be found here under "Case Documents":

To arrange an interview, please contact Lucy Caldwell, Communications Director, at
602-633-8986 or

End of Goldwater announcement

Statement from Alan Korwin:

"I am thrilled to see the ACLU get behind this case," said Alan Korwin, the Appellant in the case and an ACLU member for decades, "It is the right thing to do. Phoenix was out of its mind to tear down our bus-stop ads in the middle of the night without notice.

"I have supported many of ACLU's efforts on free speech, and they figured prominently in my 12th book about things you're not allowed to say, Bomb Jokes at Airports

"This case is about free speech, which is central to everything I've been doing as a writer and publisher for nearly three decades," he said. "It is particularly gratifying though that the substance here is gun safety, at a time when the national scene is dominated by efforts to restrict gun rights for the public." is a non-partisan, statewide, joint educational effort to teach gun safety to everyone, backed by many of the state's firearms-industry leaders. President Obama, in his 7th executive action plan to reduce gun violence, seeks to "Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign." (Source: The White House). At least in this, we find common ground. Take a gun-safety class for the benefit of yourself and your community.

Proposed Executive Action 7 out of 23:
"National safe and responsible gun ownership."
-President Obama
Take him up on it?

Like the ACLU, The Goldwater Institute is highly principled, so not everyone agrees with them all the time. C'mon, not everyone agrees with anybody all the time. It's hard to steer when you're guided by a highly magnetized moral compass.

Read the first few pages of the ACLU amicus brief, it's delightfully clear and very compelling.

You'll see why they joined this case. The case may have to do with gun safety and marksmanship education, not their usual cup of tea, but it's a perfect platform on which to establish our right to freely speak and hold the government in check. According to both the Goldwater and the ACLU filings, the Arizona Constitution provides stronger protection to "freely speak" than the U.S. Bill of Rights itself. Pretty sweet, eh?

For those of you with some animus towards this group, keep in mind that the Arizona chapter of the ACLU is nowhere near as bad on the Second Amendment as the national office (based in NYC) has been at times, a reflection of many things, and this case underscores that fact. Cut 'em a little slack. It wouldn't hurt if you thanked them. Maybe we can actually structure a discussion some time in the future. That would just be common sense.

And especially remember to thank the Goldwater folks, maybe with a donation or at least a signup for their insider and literate news reports.
The Goldwater Institute "Where Freedom Wins." This would never be happening without them. They are a force for freedom.


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  • Freelance writer Alan Korwin is a founder and past president of the Arizona Book Publishing Association. With his wife Cheryl he operates Bloomfield Press, the largest producer and distributor of gun-law books in the country. Here writing as "The Uninvited Ombudsman," Alan covers the day's stories as they ought to read. Read more.

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