By: José Niño
Pennsylvania gun clubs and shooting ranges could be on the verge of receiving new constitutional safeguards.
Jake Fogelman of The Reload reported that a lawsuit taking on zoning restrictions in a gun club in the Pittsburgh metro area will be allowed to continue to go through the courts after a Federal Court ruling that took place earlier this month.
A panel of three judges in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals made a unanimous ruling that determined a lawsuit against a local government’s tough zoning regulations may continue on Second Amendment grounds. It effectively nullified the lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit and instructed the district judge to review the assertions under increased scrutiny.
“In identifying which rules invade the Second Amendment, we hunt for historical outliers,” Judge Cheryl Ann Krause wrote in her opinion. “Because the challenged zoning rules constitute outliers, and because the pleading-stage materials fail to justify their anomalous features, we will vacate the District Court’s dismissal order and remand for discovery.”
Following William Drummond’s decision to lease the 256-acre Greater Pittsburgh Gun Club to sell guns and run a shooting range, Robinson Township passed the zoning laws. These laws sought to prevent the use of center-fire rifles at Drummond’s gun club and compel him to work under non-profit status.
Pro-Second Amendment forces did not ignore Drummond’s ordeal, however. In 2018, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) stepped up to the plate by filing a lawsuit against the township on behalf of Drummond. In the lawsuit, SAF argued that the township’s stringent zoning regulations infringed on his Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The District Court threw out the first petition, which the Third Circuit subsequently vacated and remanded in 2019.
SAF founder Alan Gottlieb expressed his delight with the ruling. SAF believes the group is “confident of a favorable ruling in the case” once the lower court takes up the case again.
“Anti-gunners have tried to push restrictive zoning on gun clubs, ranges and gun stores in an effort to use zoning laws to make sure gun ranges and stores cannot operate,” Gottlieb declared in a press release. “It amounts to Second Amendment violations and business discrimination under color of law. That cannot be allowed.”
Pennsylvania will be an interesting battleground state in 2022 and beyond. It has a divided government where the governorship is under Democratic control, while the Pennsylvania State House and State Senate are in Republican hands. One way Republicans could secure a Republican trifecta in the Keystone State is by using Drummond’s case to rile up gun owners and dish out major electoral pain to Democrats and establishment Republicans alike.
The Second Amendment remains a highly relevant issue for voters nationwide and can make all the difference in competitive races.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at email@example.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.