Back in August, a California law known as House Assembly Bill 2571 caused youth target shooting leagues across the entire state to shut down. While proponents said it was designed to target the marketing of “assault weapons” to minors, the bill had widespread implications for both young hunter recruitment efforts and youth competitive trap shooting in the Golden State.
Faced with fines of up $25,000 under AB 2571, the California State High School Clay Target League (CASHCTL), the California Youth Shooting Sports Association (CYSSA), and multiple other leagues complied with the law and abruptly shuttered with little to no warning. Now, a new bill has reversed certain portions of AB 2571, allowing the youth shooting leagues to resume their day-to-day operations.
The new bill, dubbed AB 160, passed both houses of the California state legislature on August 30 and was eventually signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 29. It was pushed through with support from such groups as Ducks Unlimited, the California Rifle and Pistol Association, and the California Waterfowl Association. In addition to clearing the way for youth shooting leagues, AB 160 ensures that programs that teach hunter safety to minors will be able to continue unimpeded.
“It [AB 2571] was written with a real broad stroke of the pen,” CYSSA Secretary Dave Stamson told Field & Stream. “Youth competitive shooting, safety programs, hunter programs, Ducks Unlimited, Boy Scouts, and a plethora of other organizations that involve youth shooting and hunting were negatively affected by this,” he said.
While the passage of AB 160 will allow Stamson and others to continue teaching California youth how to safely handle, maintain, and shoot a shotgun, he says it doesn’t fix all the problems ushered in by AB 2571. “One of the big problems is that these kids still need youth-model guns and right now, I can’t walk up to a kid and say, you need a Benelli youth-model gun, because I’m mentioning a brand name,” he said. “Those kinds of things still need to be fixed.”
Another lingering issue, according to Stamson, has to do with scholarship potential for college-bound members of California’s youth shooting leagues. “A lot of our kids are looking for scholarships, and, right now, colleges across the nation can’t talk to our kids in California,” he added.
Stamson said that the CYSSA is engaged in a legal battle that could eventually allow his league to pick up where it left off before AB 2571 rearranged the regulatory landscape of youth shooting in California. “Our lawyers are working really hard on this, and there’s an injunction scheduled for October 17,” he said. “That would put a temporary stay on the enforcement of the [AB 2571] until we can get through the court system. Until then, we have to watch our P’s and Q’s with what remains in the law, but we can get back to what we do.”