When COVID hit, Ventura County, California issued a series of public health orders that mandated a 48-day closure of gun shops, ammunition shops, and ranges. Los Angeles instituted an 11-day closure.
Our friends at the Firearms Policy Coalition quickly filed suit (McDougall v. Ventura County and Martinez v. Villanueva). Today, a 3-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the two lower-court judges who declined to block the counties’ closure of gun stores.
Eventually, the counties rescinded the prohibitions, but the cases continued because the plaintiffs sought nominal damages.
For the majority in McDowell, Judge VanDyke writes:
“The Orders therefore wholly prevented law-abiding citizens in the County from realizing their right to keep and bear arms, both by prohibiting access to acquiring any firearm and ammunition, and barring practice at firing ranges with any firearms already owned,”
You may remember Judge VanDyke from his firey dissent last year after the Ninth Circuit voted to uphold California’s ban on standard capacity magazines (Duncan v. Bonta) where he said:
the common thread [in Ninth Circuit decisions] is our court’s ready willingness to bless any restriction related to guns. Respectfully, Judge Hurwitz’s claim that our judges’ personal views about the Second Amendment and guns have not affected our jurisprudence is simply not plausible. Res ipsa loquitur. (It speaks for itself)
It’s clear that a critical aspect of the right to keep and bear arms is the ability to acquire firearms, ammunition, accessories, and to practice the use of those firearms. Thankfully, these California-style lockdowns did not happen in Minnesota. The work of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus and our allies led to the passage of 624.7192, which SPECIFICALLY prohibits the governor from using a state of emergency to:
close or limit the operating hours of businesses that lawfully sell or service any [firearms and accessories].
Unfortunately, this victory will likely be short-lived. The counties could, and likely will, appeal this decision en-banc which will put the decision before the entire Ninth Circuit bench, instead of the three-judge panel which established this ruling.
As correctly noted by Judge VanDyke in his Duncan dissent, there is not a firearm restriction that exists that does not have the Ninth Circut’s blessing. If that’s the case, it will be up to the Supreme Court of the United States to do what they do more with the Ninth Circuit than any other court of appeals. Overturn them.