First up was Newton, Massachusetts, where hundreds of residents have demanded that elected officials do something to prevent a gun shop from opening up in the downtown business district. Now the town of Wellesley is hoping to do the same, even though there are currently no gun stores inside the city limits and no known plans by anyone to try to open up a shop in town. When it comes to depriving people of their right to keep and bear arms, anti-gun activists are taking a pre-emptive approach.
The Wellesley Planning Board will address zoning for gun shops at its May 5 meeting and then is holding a public meeting on June 7 at 6:30pm to further discuss a proposed amendment to the Zoning Bylaw that would ban gun makers and shops in town.
From what we can see, no mention of “gun” or “firearm” exists in the Wellesley Zoning Bylaw.
The proposed amendment is to add a new section 16.I that no new building or structure shall be constructed or used, in whole or in part, and no building or structure, or part thereof, shall be altered, enlarged, reconstructed or used, and no land shall be used, in any part of the Town: “For the manufacture, sale, or lease of any Weapon, Machine Gun, Ammunition, Bump Stock, Large Capacity Feeding Device, Stun Gun, or Trigger Crank, or by any person engaged in the business of a Gunsmith in any zoning district. Each capitalized term shall have the definition set forth in G.L.c.140,§ 121.”The purpose of the hearing is to allow interested persons the opportunity to express their views and opinions on the proposed amendment.
While I believe that bans like this would violate the Constitution, there’s a part of me that would love to see Wellesley and Newton move ahead with their attempts to ban gun stores from operating in the city limits. Not because I want to see people deprived of their ability to lawfully acquire a firearm, but because I want these communities hauled into court.
The Supreme Court has never weighed in on the issue, but back in 2014 a federal judge did declare that Chicago’s ban on gun stores violated the Constitution.
U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang found that the city failed to convince him that banning the sale of guns by licensed dealers was necessary to reduce gun violence.
The ruling also would make it legal for individuals to transfer ownership of a firearm as a gift or through a private sale as long as the recipient was at least 18 and had a firearm owner’s identification card.
Chicago, the last city to allow residents to have handguns in their homes, once had one of the strongest handgun crackdowns in the country, making it a primary target of the National Rifle Association.
Overturning the ban on retail gun stores and private gun sales was the last major hurdle gun rights groups faced in their hard-fought battle to dismantle Chicago’s tough firearm prohibitions.
Well, that proved to be a overly optimistic take on the part of the Chicago Tribune. Seven years after Judge Chang’s ruling, there are still no gun shops or indoor ranges located inside the Chicago city limits, because while the outright ban was struck down, the city responded by laying down a host of other zoning restrictions and special use permits that have served the same purpose.
If the proposed gun store bans in the Massachusetts towns were also thrown out by a federal court, I have no doubt that these towns would pull a page from Chicago’s playbook and try to accomplish a ban without actually formally keeping one on the books. If and when that happens, they should be sued again. In fact, they should be hauled into court until they finally understand that their hoplophobic attitudes have no place enshrined in law. If you don’t want to support a local independent business, don’t shop there. To try to prevent a gun shop from even opening, however, is the type of petty tyranny that’s worth pushing back against.