Yesterday a federal appeals court ruled that local restrictions on gun sales can violate the Second Amendment. “The right to purchase and to sell firearms is part and parcel of the historically recognized right to keep and to bear arms,” said a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, concluding that a federal judge should not have dismissed a constitutional challenge to a zoning ordinance that prevented a gun store from opening in Alameda County, California. “If ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms’ is to have any force, the people must have a right to acquire the very firearms they are entitled to keep and to bear.”
The three men who brought the lawsuit, John Teixeira, Steve Nobriga, and Gary Gamaza, planned to open a gun store but were stymied by a county rule banning such businesses within 500 feet of a home, a school, a day care center, a liquor store, a bar, a restaurant with a liquor license, or another gun store. Because of that restriction, Teixeira and his partners said, “there are no parcels in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County which would be available for firearm retail sales.”
Even if that’s not true, the 9th Circuit said, the 500-foot rule burdens a constitutionally protected right and therefore should be subject to “heightened scrutiny,” as opposed to the highly deferential “rational basis” test applied by the district court. The county claimed the location restrictions were motivated by concerns about the impact that gun stores might have on crime in their vicinity and on the aesthetics of the neighborhood. But it presented no evidence to substantiate either concern.
Read the entire decision here.
Let’s apply an anticipated gun-grabber argument to the First Amendment, and imagine the howls of outrage were a municipality to pass ordinances outlawing free speech within their borders – or the free practice of religion.
Well, folks, the Second Amendment’s enshrined right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental human right, just as is freedom of expression and freedom of conscience. But the real point here is that the Alameda County ordinance was passed as a “crime control” measure, which is how lots of proposed gun control laws are pushed – never minding for a moment that 1) criminals don’t buy guns from licensed dealers, and B) no gun control law anywhere, ever, has been in-arguably shown to result in a decrease in crime rates.
The amount of derp shown here by Alameda County staggers description. It’s good that the Ninth Circuit showed a little (uncharacteristic) bit of common sense and slapped them down.