California has lead the nation for a long time in its attempts to prevent citizens from being able to own, carry, or use firearms in any way that it possibly could. It has repeatedly taken such extreme steps to limit firearm ownership by its civilian populace that the term ‘California Legal’ or ‘California Compliant’ is a widely-understood term for most gun owners.
Now, Alameda, California has turned to a scheme seen before in an attempt to limit the number of gun stores that can operate in the state: manipulating zoning laws to prevent new shops from opening. However, one gun store is attempting to fight against the law, which seems wildly unconstitutional and ripe for abuse.
John Teixeira, Steve Nobriga, and Gary Gamaza decided that they would like to open a gun shop in San Lorenzo, a city in Alameda County. An ancient California law prohibited opening gun stores within 500 feet of a residence, so San Lorenzo attempted to deny them the right to open their business.
Not ready to quit and let the city have their way, Teixeira and company investigated, looking to see if any businesses in the city actually complied with the ridiculous zoning laws. They found out that literally, not a single business in the entire city of San Lorzneo was in compliance with their zoning laws. For some reason, their gun shop had been singled out.
Evidence in hand, Teixeira and his friends filed a suit to force the government of San Lorenzo to give them the same treatment every other business in the city received. Their suit received support from the Second Amendment Foundation, Calguns Foundation, and the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees.
In a shocking decision from the usually anti-gun 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (commonly known as the 9th Circus Court of Appeals, due to its ridiculous decisions and how often they were overturned), they sided with the owners of the prospective gun store, ruling in a 2-1 panel that Alameda County had targeted them due to what they planned to sell. The panel ruled that Alameda County had attempted to suppress their Second Amendment rights and that they ought to be permitted to build their shop.
However, a federal Court of Appeals reversed the decision in October 2017, when Judge Marsha Berzon, a Clinton nominee, stated that “gun buyers have no right to have a gun store in a particular location, at least as long as their access is not meaningfully constrained.” In her eyes, gun stores don’t have a right to ‘be’ anywhere they want to be, so long as there’s access SOMEWHERE.
In response, the group filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court, stating that this was an obvious infringement on the part of a partisan judge. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will take the case, and will decide in a way that is more honest and less partisan.
This isn’t a new scheme by any means to deny gun shops the ability to open and to deny gun owners the ability to have a shop nearby. The city of Chicago, one of the most anti-gun cities in the United States, attempted a similar scheme. Their zoning ordinance, which they have proposed repeatedly for decades, almost always created conditions that would have prevented a gun store from being able to legally open anywhere in Chicago except for the crime-ridden south side.
On its own, enforcing realistic zoning laws is not an unconstitutional act, and if every business in the city was being treated equally, Teixeira and company would have no valid complaint. However, when a city (and a county) have ridiculous zoning laws, and only enforce those laws when they feel like it, it becomes obvious that they are not interested in being fair and more interested in preventing a certain business from opening its doors.
California has enough absurd laws on the books concerning firearms. The magazine size is for weapons with detachable box mags is capped at 10 rounds, rifles cannot have adjustable stocks, removable rifle magazines are illegal, the laws continue on and on. To make it worse, the state is a ‘may issue’ state, meaning that California does not have to issue concealed carry licenses, even to people who meet every criteria to qualify for one.
The founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, Alan M. Gottlieb, said it best when he told Fox News that “you simply cannot allow local governments to ignore the Second Amendment because they don’t like how the Supreme Court has ruled on the amendment twice in the past ten years.” Most importantly, “you shouldn’t be able to zone the Second Amendment out of the Bill of Rights.”