U.S. Ninth Circuit - The FindLaw 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

9th Cir: 2nd Amendment Also Means "Right to Buy Arms"

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals took on an eyebrow-raising tone recently when it endorsed a pro-gun advocate notion that a "right to buy arms" is implied within the Second Amendment's right to bear arms.

The decision is a major blow to Alameda County's attempts to limit gun sales and the location of gun stores. It's a page flipper, for sure.

"500-Foot-Rule"

When John Teixeira sought to set up his gun shop "Valley Guns and Ammo" in the San Francisco Bay Area's East Bay, he ran into a number of roadblocks that stymied his efforts. Not only was he required to obtain the necessary local Alameda County permits, he had to get his hands on California's and the federal government's permits too.

The local permits proved to be the most difficult. Local Alameda County rules prohibit businesses like Teixera's from being located within 500 feet of any "[r]esidentially zoned district; elementary, middle or high school; pre-school or day care center; other firearms sales business; or liquor stores or establishments in which liquor is served." Complaints from persons who stood within this critical radius of where Valley Guns and Ammo was to be sited all but stopped Teixiera from opening shop.

Second Amendment: A Right To Buy?

In the ensuing court battle, Teixiera argued that the local Alameda rule was nothing more than a backhanded way of prohibiting people from bearing arms -- by banning gun stores.

But Teixiera had a friend in the Ninth Circuit which concluded that historical understanding and usage of the Second Amendment also included a right to purchase firearms as well as to bear them. "Our forefathers recognized that the prohibition of commerce in firearms worked to undermine the right to keep and to bear arms," the panel said.

The opinion could have also doubled as a study into early American history and roots. Ninth Circuit Judge O'Scannlain went into some detail about early American settlers' dependence on the free commercial sale and trade of guns; and even outlined gun sales critical role encapsulated in the English Bill of Rights in 1689.

We doubt many litigators would have expected this to come out of the Ninth Circuit...

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