It’s fair to say that the deep-blue Boston suburbs aren’t the most Second Amendment-friendly environs in the United States, but Newton, Massachusetts is going above and beyond the usual anti-gun bigotry on display. After months of debate, the town council moved forward with a plan on Wednesday that will prevent a gun store from opening at its already-leased location in the downtown business district.
Instead, if Newton Firearms opens at all, it’ll have to find an empty space in one of just three small areas of the town, thanks to zoning changes that block any firearms-related business from operating in the vast majority of the city limits.
But the modern-day witch hunters in Newton aren’t done yet. Some of them are demanding another vote because this one didn’t go far enough.
City Councilor At-Large Lenny Gentile, who supports a ban on firearm businesses, was the only person to vote against the zoning measure, saying the proposal just wasn’t enough.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think that this restrictive zoning gives as much protection as we would like our constituents to think,” Gentile said during the meeting.
He and several other city councilors are proposing a ban on gun businesses in Newton. A public hearing for residents to weigh in on that is scheduled for June 21.
But Fuller and city lawyers have said they are concerned such a ban would be challenged in court on constitutional grounds. Other local lawyers said during a May 10 meeting they disagree.
Oh, let me assure the city that any total ban will be challenged in court on constitutional grounds. Attorneys may agree or disagree about the chances of the city’s success in defending such a ban, but challenges to Chicago’s ban on gun stores were successful (though the city has still stymied any gun shop or range from opening by using their own zoning laws as a barrier), and in Massachusetts last year a federal judge blocked Gov. Charlie Baker’s order that gun stores close as non-essential businesses.
Now, that doesn’t mean that another judge might rule in favor of Newton and declare that as long as residents could get a gun somewhere, Newton can go ahead and banish all gun shops from town. I wouldn’t bet the city’s budget on that outcome, however.
Newtown’s anti-gun store movement has spread to several other Boston suburbs, and I suspect that gun control activists might try to launch an astroturf movement to take these bans nationwide as a response to the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement. We already know that the gun control movement is attacking firearm preemption laws that prevent towns from imposing their own gun control restrictions, and groups like Everytown and Giffords could easily tie-in their push to end preemption with Democrat-dominated cities and towns demanding a ban on gun stores, if not guns themselves.
For the moment, the gun store-free movement is a small one, confined to a few towns in one of the most Second Amendment-hostile states in the nation. If anti-gun politicians and the gun control lobby decide that this is an idea worth getting behind, however, it could become a big problem for millions of Americans who live behind the Blue Curtain.