US Supreme Court asked to review East Bay gun shop case
Jan. 10--SAN LORENZO -- The United States Supreme Court was asked to review a local case regarding Alameda County barring a gun shop from opening in San Lorenzo.
Three organizations including the Second Amendment Foundation, the Calguns Foundation and California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees filed the petition to be heard by the Supreme Court Monday. The request follows the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last year, which upheld Alameda County's decision back in 2012.
The saga began in 2012 when businessmen John Teixeira, Steve Nobriga and Gary Gamaza had been granted a variance and conditional use permit earlier that year to open Valley Guns Ammo at 488 Lewelling Blvd. in San Lorenzo. The San Lorenzo Village Homes Association then appealed the decision, and in February 2012 Alameda County Board of Supervisors overturned the West County Board of Zoning Adjustments and denied the permit.
The county ordinance prohibits gun stores within 500 feet of residential zones. But, a study by the plaintiffs found that there are no lots within unincorporated Alameda County that meet the county's 500-feet rule.
Months later, the Second Amendment Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against the county.
Plaintiffs first won in the Ninth Circuit before three judges, but the opinion was then reversed in a rehearing before it went before the full appeals court.
The U.S. Supreme Court is asked to review more than 7,000 cases each year but only agrees to consider between 100 and 150.
Brandon Combs, vice president of the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, told this newspaper that it's hard to predict what the courts will do.
"Their grants are fairly rare," he said. "But this is a great case for them to correct the lower courts."
The three-judge panel's decision agreed that the Second Amendment does protect the right to sell firearms in accordance with laws, Combs said. But in the rehearing, he said it was as if they said: "Yes, you have a right to have one (a firearm), but not to get one."
"You simply cannot allow local governments to ignore the Second Amendment because they don't like how the Supreme Court has ruled on the amendment twice in the past 10 years," said Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan M. Gottlieb in a statement. "You shouldn't be able to zone the Second Amendment out of the Bill of Rights."
Calguns Foundation's chairman, Gene Hoffman, said in a statement that since this case was filed in 2012, other local governments have also used "unconstitutional zoning laws" to stop gun stores from opening.
"If this was a bookstore or an abortion clinic, the Ninth Circuit would not have hesitated in striking this zoning regulation unanimously," Hoffman said.
The three businessmen are represented by San Jose-based attorney Don Kilmer and Virginia attorney Alan Gura.