SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The full 9th Circuit shot down the 12-year-old challenge gun show promoters brought against an Alameda County weapons ban, in the court’s third consideration of the case.
In previous hearings, smaller panels of the federal appeals court focused on the free-speech and equal-protection claims first brought by Russell and Sallie Nordyke, who run TS Gun Shows, in 1999.
The couple said Alameda County’s ban on firearms and ammunition from the county fairgrounds made their popular annual gun show there impossible. A federal judge found the law did not violate the couple’s rights and refused to allow them to amend their complaint to add Second Amendment violations. The first appellate panel to hear the case affirmed.
But the circuitous case wound back through the courts several more times over the years, with the 9th Circuit finally granting leave for an amended complaint in May 2011. After the court called for yet another en banc rehearing in November, the judges sent the dispute into mediation in April 2012.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski remarked at the time that the move made the panel “look foolish.”
In their latest decision of the case, the majority applauded Alameda County’s “current, official interpretation of its ordinance,” which allows the Nordykes to have their gun show at the county fairgrounds, provided the firearms are secured while not being handled by potential customers.
“With that interpretation in mind, plaintiffs cannot state a viable Second Amendment claim,” according to the lead opinion authored by Judge Susan Graber.
“No matter how broad the scope of the Second Amendment – an issue we leave for another day – it is clear that, as applied to plaintiffs’ gun shows and as interpreted by the county, this regulation is permissible,” she added. Graber noted that if Alameda County adds new requirements or enforces the ordinance differently in the future, the Nordykes are free to bring a new Second Amendment challenge.
“But in the present case, they cannot succeed, no matter what form of scrutiny applies to Second Amendment claims,” the judge concluded.
Judges Diarmuid O’Scannlain and Sandra Ikuta both wrote concurrences of Graber’s opinion.