The Second Amendment says we have a right to own and carry firearms. The Constitution clearly says so, the Supreme Court says so, and even a lot of anti-gun zealots begrudgingly say so. It’s as simple as that.
By extension, people have a right to open gun stores, right? After all, what good is a right to keep and bear arms if you can’t get any arms?
One might think that’s the case, but one federal court disagrees.
The U.S. 9th Circuit on Tuesday upheld an Alameda County law barring gun stores within 500 feet of residential properties in a blow to gun rights advocates.
The ruling came from a 9-2 en banc panel of the court in a case brought by gun dealers and Second Amendment groups who contended the county’s zoning effectively put it off limits to new gun stores. The court held that local governments could regulate the sale of firearms so long as would-be buyers were still able to purchase them somewhere in the area and that the Second Amendment does not protect the ability to engage in gun sales.
Writing for the majority, Judge Marsha Berzon noted that there were numerous gun stores, including a Big 5 Sporting Goods outlet, located in the County that had been in operation before the 500-foot rule came into effect, and the new zoning restriction did not burden the right to keep and bear arms as it just limited the ability to open new gun stores.
“In any event, 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,” said Berzon.
The case was brought in 2012 by businessmen John Teixeira, Steve Nobriga and Gara Gamaza who found that the county’s zoning made it impossible to find a commercial property available for which they could open a new gun store.
I spent a good bit of time thinking about this, and I don’t know that the court is actually wrong here. The Second Amendment doesn’t really apply since there are still gun stores available for people to buy guns from, so this falls into a different category.
This sounds more like protectionism for the existing gun stores more than an outright attempt to infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.
Not that such a thing makes it any better.
Anytime you create zoning laws that effectively ban any particular industry from your community, you have failed to understand the free market system which we ostensibly live under.
You see, in a case like this, competition means not just that there are multiple gun stores, but that even newer companies can open up to challenge the existing stores. This ultimately keeps prices down, service high, and all that jazz. Even the threat of competition is often enough to boost customer service and/or reduce prices.
By blocking new stores, the local government is basically protecting older, slower to adapt companies from the folly of their current ways. At the same time, they’re just being outright un-American.