Two California counties were ruled to have violated their citizens’ Second Amendment rights by shutting down gun shops during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Thursday ruling by a three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals determined orders by officials in Ventura and Los Angeles counties that deemed gun retailers “nonessential businesses” to be illegal, The Associated Press reported.
Officials in both counties won separate lawsuits in lower courts, with judges ruling that the shutdowns of such businesses reasonably fit within county officials’ emergency powers and served the public interest.
“The closure of non-essential businesses, including firearms and ammunition retailers, reasonably fits the City’s and County’s stated objectives of reducing the spread of this disease,” U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. wrote concerning the closure of gun retailers at the time.
The Second Amendment “means nothing if the government can prohibit all persons from acquiring any firearm or ammunition,” Judge Lawrence VanDyke stated of the Ventura County case. “But that’s what happened in this case.” RELATED: Churches Shake Down California For $2 Million Over COVID-19 Shutdowns
Given that firearms can only be legally acquired in California through in-person purchases, VanDyke argued that the shutdown orders “wholly prevented law-abiding citizens in [Ventura] County from realizing their right to keep and bear arms.” He described the orders as a means which “clearly burden conduct protected by the Second Amendment and fail under both strict and intermediate scrutiny.”
The Second Amendment “means nothing if the government can prohibit all persons from acquiring any firearm or ammunition,” the judge wrote.
The ruling overturns lower court decisions in separate cases against Los Angeles and Ventura counties.https://t.co/Ma5Fn6jE0x
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 21, 2022
Multiple Second Amendment advocacy groups, individuals and businesses have filed suit in California and other states for their enactment of similar restrictions, according to the AP.
In addition to suing Los Angeles County over its compliance with Democrat Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Safer At Home Order, the National Rifle Association’s Office of Litigation Counsel also sued multiple counties in the San Francisco Bay Area for similar orders. However, the AP reported the latter three suits were dismissed after the orders were rescinded.