A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Los Angeles and Ventura counties violated the 2nd Amendment by shutting down gun and ammunition stores in March 2020 arguing that they were nonessential businesses, Fox 11 reported.
"The court today rightfully recognized that Los Angeles County violated Second Amendment rights when it shut down gun stores and ranges in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic," Michael Jean, NRA's director of the Office of Litigation Counsel, said in a statement. "This is an important decision. It ensures that California -- or any state -- cannot use a crisis to trample on the Constitutional rights of citizens."
John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, told FOX Business the judges ruled the counties didn’t even try to justify why they closed gun stores, violating the right of citizens to self-defense.
"The orders by Los Angeles and Ventura counties closed down gun stores and shooting ranges even while they allowed businesses like bike shops to remain open," Lott told Fox. "Despite rising crime, the counties made it impossible for people to exercise their right to self-defense, to get a gun, or even try to get a concealed handgun permit for protection or even buy ammunition. The judges’ unanimous decision complained that the counties didn’t even try to justify what businesses they decided to close."
Because buyers can obtain guns only by personally going to gun stores in California, Ventura County’s 48-day closure of gun shops, ammunition shops and firing ranges "wholly prevented law-abiding citizens in the County from realizing their right to keep and bear arms," he wrote.
This, he noted, happened while bike shops were among those allowed to remain open as essential businesses. The panel adopted the same reasoning in the Los Angeles County case, though the closure there was for 11 days.
Losing parties can generally ask the full 9th Circuit to review the ruling by the three judges, or petition the U.S. Supreme Court. The nation’s high court has been deemed more sympathetic to gun owners in recent years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.