A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that Los Angeles County’s closure of gun stores at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic was unconstitutional.
In the panel’s decision, Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote that the Los Angeles County order “severely burdens the core of the Second Amendment right at a time of crisis, precisely when the need to exercise that right becomes most acute.” Judges Ryan Nelson and Lawrence VanDyke concurred with Kleinfeld’s opinion.
Though the stores were only closed for 11 days in Los Angeles, the decision aptly noted that “11 days instantly becomes 21 days when adding California’s 10-day waiting period for acquiring firearms,” before adding that the orders “could be perpetually extended if the County so decided.”
“The court today recognized that Los Angeles County violated Second Amendment rights when it shut down gun stores and ranges in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an important decision. It ensures that California – or any state – cannot use a crisis to trample on the Constitutional rights of citizens,” said Michael Jean, NRA director of the Office of Litigation Counsel.
The decision from the Ninth Circuit is a welcome one that strikes against overreaching government officials who seek any method possible to curtail our Second Amendment rights. Localities in California weren’t the only ones that attempted to use this dishonest tactic, either.
As we’ve written here at A1F.com, firearms ranges and stores are absolutely essential businesses. “The ‘essential’ nature of the Second Amendment was protected from government infringement when the U.S. Bill of rights was ratified over two centuries ago. This right is fundamental—during local or national emergencies, this right must especially be protected so good citizens can stay safe and secure.”
The Trump administration had issued official guidelines that included gun stores as essential during the early response to the global pandemic: “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors and shooting ranges.”
Nonetheless, anti-gun politicians in many areas sought to curtail the rights of law-abiding citizens by imposing regulations to shut down gun stores and other businesses designated as essential that are involved in Second Amendment-related activities. Fortunately, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), along with others in the pro-gun community, challenged the Los Angeles County order—as well as similar overbearing COVID-19 restrictions, including in New Mexico and New York
If these closures had gone unchallenged, then politicians who don’t like American citizens’ Second Amendment rights might use any emergency to further restrict this critical part of our freedom.