9th Circuit Forces County to Justify Restrictions

Analysis by Kyle A. Lohmeier

The inherent silliness of government was put on full display again Monday, May 16, 2016 when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Alameda County, California on behalf of three men who were prevented from opening a gun store within the county. It’s not that the decision was silly, in fact, it was the only remotely logical one the judges could have reached, so naturally the decision was split 2-1. It isn’t even the fact that this matter has gone all the way up to the appellate level in the first place that makes it absurd; it’s that the matter has come up at all that is proof of the idiocy of government.

Essentially, three men wanted to open a gun store in the county, and were initially granted a permit to do so. Then, residents living in a development across the highway from the store filed a lawsuit to stop the store being built. The county has a law that says gun shops cannot be located within 500 feet of residential areas, schools, bars or other gun shops. Based on the complaint from the neighborhood, the county board of supervisors revoked the permit and the men filed suit. That suit was initially dismissed, until the Ninth Circuit reinstated it Monday. Now the county will have to justify its 500-foot rule.

Of course, the dissenting judge, a Clinton appointee naturally, summed up the matter in a way only a devout statist could.

When you clear away all the smoke, what we’re dealing with here is a mundane zoning dispute dressed up as a 2nd Amendment challenge,” Judge Barry G. Silverman was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times Newspaper on Monday.

The right to purchase and to sell firearms is part and parcel of the historically recognized right to keep and to bear arms,” Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, wrote for the majority, as quoted in the same L.A. Times article, which points out he’s a Reagan appointee.

Well, at least O’Scannlain is capable of rational thought. Yes, clearly, one must be able to buy and sell arms if one is to have them, as we’re not all gunsmiths.

And, really, Silverman isn’t far wrong either, the issue is, at its heart, a fairly mundane zoning issue. That is to say, government overreach has gotten so common as to be mundane.

It’s good that the county will be forced to justify its 500-foot rule, and I for one will be awfully curious as to what justification they come up with, or, more likely, what rationalization-couched-in-lawyerly-words they’ll put forward. The court ruled that their previous “justification” was insufficient as it was nothing more than an unfounded and wrong assertion that the presence of a gun store increases crime. Oh, that and the denial of the building permit isn’t a second amendment issue as there are other gun shops in the county.

The bigger philosophical question no one asks – that’s why I’m here – is what real, objective, compelling, not-made-up need is there for any government to say any business cannot be located within 500 feet of anything else? I mean, OK, maybe a town can make the case that the strip club doesn’t belong next door to the elementary school. But a gun store? It makes as little sense as Alabama’s new law restricting the proximity of abortion clinics to elementary schools that I poked fun at last week.

Whatever the outcome of the newly-reinstated lawsuit, one takeaway from this is that this case is just another we can toss onto the massive heap of evidence that one of, if not the biggest problems we have a country has is that of way, way too much government.

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