Counties may regulate the location of gun shops, 9th Circuit Court rules

Counties may restrict the location of gun stores as long as residents have the ability to purchase firearms, a federal appeals court decided Tuesday.

An 11-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging an Alameda County zoning ordinance that barred firearm sales near residential neighborhoods, schools, day-care centers, other firearm retailers and liquor stores.

The 9-2 decision overturned an earlier ruling by a three-judge 9th Circuit panel, which said the county had to justify the restriction. If the zoning amounted to a ban on new gun stores, it was likely to violate the Constitution’s guarantee of the right to bear arms, that panel decided 2 to 1 last year.

In Tuesday’s ruling, the court said the 2nd Amendment does not create a commercial right to sell guns, as long as law-abiding people are not deprived of keeping arms in their homes.

“Alameda County residents may freely purchase firearms within the county,” wrote Judge Marsha S. Berzon, a Clinton appointee, for the en banc panel. “As of December 2011, there were 12 gun stores in Alameda County.”

In fact, a store selling guns stands 600 feet from the site where the proposed store in the original case would have been located, the 9th Circuit said.

“Gun buyers have no right to have a gun store in a particular location, at least as long as their access is not meaningfully constrained,” the court said.

The case, backed by several gun groups, was brought by individuals who sought a permit for a gun store in an unincorporated part of Alameda County.

maura.dolan@latimes.com

Twitter: @mauradolan

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