NC Residents Argue Zoning Changes Infringe On 2A Rights

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

I’m enough of a libertarian at heart that I’m not a big fan of zoning laws. I understand why they exist and I tolerate them well enough, but the idea of being told what I can and can’t build on my own property still bothers me.


But what if someone decided to change the zoning and suddenly you couldn’t exercise a basic, constitutionally protected right in your own home?

One would imagine even people who like zoning laws would have a bit of an issue there, right?

Well, that seems to be happening to some folks in North Carolina.

Four Colfax residents who hope to stop a school from being built on a neighboring property have filed a lawsuit alleging the presence of the school would result in the violation of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Specifically, the neighbors are suing in federal court to overturn the High Point City Council’s decision in June to rezone the property as requested by the sellers of the land and the Guilford County Board of Education. The plaintiffs also want to recover the costs of the lawsuit and receive “any further relief as may be proper and just.”

On June 20, at the request of Guilford County Schools and the original property owners, the High Point City Council voted to annex the land and then rezone it to Institutional Conditional Use.

The new school — to be named for famed NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson — is expected to have a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math theme, and include STEM laboratories for use by the students there. It will serve kindergarten through eighth grade. Money to build the school is expected to come from the proceeds from school construction bonds previously approved by Guilford County voters.

Some of those speaking out against the location and zoning for the new school were neighbors living on Gray Lane.

That’s the private access road that runs through the rezoned property and connects the suing couples’ homes and properties to the public South Bunker Hill Road. They have a pre-existing legal agreement that allows them to travel it.

According to the lawsuit, Lambeth and the Eschweilers are gun owners.

The couples allege that when the proposed school is built, it will be a criminal offense for them to possess a firearm on the rezoned property — so they won’t be able to legally bring any newly purchased firearms to their homes or carry any firearms out to the public road and beyond.


Now, the lawsuit includes a lot of other things, but basically, what the plaintiffs are saying is that because of the way the law is, they’d be breaking it by traveling through an area that’s technically a school with a firearm.

And, frankly, they might have a point.

The legal agreement that allows them to use that road is an easement. It’s not their own property and, as such, when that land became school property, that would seem to mean that all laws regarding school property apply.

That includes carrying a firearm on school property.

In fact, the defendants don’t seem to even dispute this fact. They’re just saying they won’t get relief for that via this legal action.

I’m not so sure of that, though. If the government is found to have re-zoned the land improperly and the zoning changes are rescinded, that would give the plaintiffs relief, wouldn’t it?

Either way, this is an interesting case from a Second Amendment standpoint because, for once, zoning laws might actually be a novel Second Amendment issue. I mean, this goes well beyond telling a gun store it can’t open too close to a school, this is telling people they can’t buy new guns or take their old guns out to the range because they’d have to travel across school property.


I don’t have any easy answers on this, either. I know where I stand on the issue, but I don’t know how the courts will rule.

It’ll be interesting to see, though.

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