LA County gun store closures during COVID surge ruled unconstitutional

CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 15: A man walks with a stroller as people stand in line outside the Martin B. Retting, Inc. guns store on March 15, 2020 in Culver City, California. The spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has prompted some Americans to l

An order closing gun stores in Los Angeles County in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago was unconstitutional, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

In its ruling, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that both Los Angeles and Ventura counties had violated the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms when they shut down gun and ammunition shops in March 2020 as nonessential businesses during the beginnings of the coronavirus pandemic.

At that time, the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups filed suit in Los Angeles federal court against Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and other officials, alleging both state and local policies and enforcement practices violated citizens' rights.


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Officials in Los Angeles and Ventura counties won lower court decisions that found gun stores were not exempt from the shutdown orders.

In rejecting those decisions, Judge Lawrence Van Dyke wrote for the appellate panel -- meeting in Pasadena -- that the Second Amendment "means nothing if the government can prohibit all persons from acquiring any firearm or ammunition. But that's what happened in this case."

In a tweet, the NRA declared the decision a "Second Amendment victory ... protecting California gun owners, dealers, and ranges."

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