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Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Judge Dismisses Gun Store’s Lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge dismissed a gun store's lawsuit against Alameda County, which refused to let it open within 500 feet of a residential neighborhood.

Lead plaintiff John Teixeira formed Valley Guns and Ammo with Steven Nobriga and Gary Gamaza in 2010. They found property in San Leandro, a suburb of 85,000 between Oakland and Hayward.

An Alameda County land-use ordinance prohibits gun stores within 500 feet of a residential area, schools and certain businesses.

Valley Guns claimed that its store complied with the ordinance.

The West County Board of Zoning Adjustments said they were not in compliance, but issued the business a conditional use permit.

The San Leandro Village Home Owners Association appealed, and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors overturned the Zoning Board's decision on Feb. 28, 2012.

By June, CalGuns Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation and the California Association of Federal Firearms Licenses joined Valley Guns in a lawsuit alleging violations of due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. They also challenged the ordinance under the Second Amendment.

Alameda County filed a motion to dismiss, and Valley Guns filed a preliminary injunction.

In regard to Valley Guns' equal protection claim, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston found no proof the business was treated differently than any others.

"Plaintiffs fail to allege facts sufficient to show that defendants intentionally granted conditional use permits and variances to other similarly situated businesses that fell within 500 feet of a disqualifying property under the ordinance or that defendants intentionally measured the distance to the buildings of similarly situated businesses differently," Illston wrote.

She knocked down the Second Amendment claim, citing District Of Columbia v. Heller (2008), in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes.

"The zoning ordinance places limited 'qualifications on the commercial sale of arms' by restricting their sale within 500 feet of 'sensitive places such as schools' and residences," Illston wrote. "The ordinance is precisely the kind of presumptively valid restriction envisioned by Heller - it is a restriction on gun sales and purchases in or near sensitive places. The ordinance is not a total ban on gun sales or purchases in Alameda County and therefore does not implicate the core right to possess a gun in the home for self-defense articulated in Heller."

Illston granted the county's motion for dismissal, granting Valley Guns leave to amend its complaint, though "the court is skeptical that plaintiffs can amend their complaint to allege that the ordinance is invalid, either facially or as applied."

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