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Town’s ‘No Gun Stores’ Law Sparks Lawsuit

gun store ban

Image source: Raleigh News & Observer

A new gun control ordinance in a California town that could prevent new gun stores from opening has prompted a lawsuit by Second Amendment supporters.

Pleasant Hill City Council approved the new firearms law during a November meeting. It makes it illegal to operate a gun store within 500 feet of a park, another gun dealer, adult entertainment venue, or a massage parlor – or within 150 feet of a residence. It also prohibits gun stores from opening within 1,000 feet of a day care or school. Exactly how ensuring that massage parlors and gun stores are not located near one another will ensure safety or enhance business standards remains unclear, but the law could prevent any gun store from opening in the future.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade organization for the gun industry, filed the lawsuit against the town.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation feels that the Pleasant Hill gun ordinance puts an “unfair burden on already highly regulated and law-abiding firearms retailers” conducting business in the California town. City Arms East LLC, a local gun dealer, is challenging segments of the recently enacted weapons ordinance on the grounds that it violates existing firearms and labor laws, and state zoning regulations. According to the gun regulations lawsuit, the California city’s new ordinance also authorizes warrantless searches, “requires liability insurance for uninsurable willful or criminal conduct,” and violates federal firearms industry laws.

The National Rifle Association said the law would “make it extremely costly (if not impossible) for firearm businesses to obtain the required local permit,” which ultimately would burden citizens’ “right to obtain a firearm.”

Gun store owners much also pass a criminal background check, install acceptable alarm systems and surveillance cameras, and submit an annual report to the Pleasant Hill Police Chief detailing the regulation compliance standards at the business. Existing firearms retailers are exempt from the new restrictions, but must submit background check details on all employees to the police department. One gun dealer who currently has a permit to sell weapons out of his home can continue to do so.

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Said Lawrence G. Keane, the general counsel and senior vice president for the NSSF:

This tremendous overreach by a city council rings the bell for the multiple ways it contradicts and attempts to push aside constitutional and state laws and even accepted municipal zoning practices. The city’s own police department told the council that firearms retailers have conducted business Pleasant Hill without creating problems. In short, there is no reason for the Pleasant Hill gun ordinance, other than, perhaps, a political display that targets a legitimate business.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation represents more than 10,000 gun retailers, shooting ranges, firearms manufacturers, distributors, publishers, and sporting organizations. The stated mission of the group that was formed in 1961 is to “promote, protect, and preserve hunting and shooting sports.”

Pleasant Hill City Councilman Tim Flaherty feels that the new gun control law is neither a violence prevention nor a Second Amendment issue. Flaherty sees the firearms ordinance as a means to ensure that future gun retailers adhere to the “same high standards” as existing weapons stores on the town. “[The council] is looking at businesses in our community and deciding whether we want to have a say in whether that business continues to operate safely,” he told the Contra Costa Times.

A statement about the new gun control law issued by the National Shooting Sports Foundation reads:

We have decided to take a more aggressive stance to prevent anti-gun regulations from driving law-abiding, job-creating and taxpaying firearms retailers out of business through overregulation that will do nothing to enhance public safety.

The new gun ordinance also grants the police chief 45 days in which to decide if a gun retailer permit application is approved or denied. One police officer stated that the new rules are “burdensome” to both the gun retailers and law enforcement officers.

Do you think the Pleasant Hill gun ordinance violates the Second Amendment?

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