9th Circuit Court: Gun Store COVID Shutdowns Violated Constitution

The Ninth Circuit federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the coronavirus lockdowns of gun stores in Ventura County, California, violated constitutional rights.

The case, McDougall v. County of Ventura, was appealed to the Ninth Circuit after the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California rejected a claim that Ventura County’s coronavirus orders closing gun stores, ammo shops, and gun ranges violated Second Amendment rights.

Judges Lawrence Vandyke and Andrew Kleinfeld on the three-judge panel reversed the lower court.

Vandyke and Kleinfeld observed:

Ultimately, the issue boils down to the County’s designation of “essential” versus “non-essential” businesses and activities. While courts should afford some measure of deference to local policy determinations, “the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 636. When a government completely bans all acquisition of firearms and ammunition by closing gun shops, ammunition shops, and firing ranges, it’s one of those off-limits policy choices squarely contemplated by Heller. See id. at 630. The Orders cannot satisfy strict scrutiny.

CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 24: A cyclist rides past the Martin B. Retting, Inc. guns store as the coronavirus pandemic continues on March 24, 2020 in Culver City, California. L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva stated today that gun stores are nonessential businesses and must close as part of the ordered shuttering of L.A. County shops in efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Martin B. Retting, Inc. guns store during the coronavirus pandemic on March 24, 2020, in Culver City, California. L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva stated today that gun stores are nonessential businesses and must close as part of the ordered shuttering of L.A. County shops in efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Vandyke and Kleinfeld also noted, “Not only did Appellees fail to provide any evidence or explanation suggesting that gun shops, ammunition shops, and firing ranges posed a greater risk of spreading COVID19 than other businesses and activities deemed ‘essential,’ but they also failed to provide any evidence that they considered less restrictive alternatives for the general public.”

Judge Ryan Nelson was the panel’s dissenting voice.

The case is McDougall v. County of Ventura, No. 20-56220 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. Reach him at [email protected]. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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