A three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has unanimously remanded—for the second time—a case back to the federal district court that essentially says local governments cannot use zoning laws to essentially prevent gun stores and gun ranges from operating.
Robinson Township, Pa., officials have “been at odds with the range since the early 1990s,” the Second Amendment Foundation noted. SAF is a plaintiff in the case, known as Drummond v. Robinson Township. The range has been in operation for decades, although it was inactive for about a decade. However, in 2017, William Drummond leased the property and announced his intention to operate the facility and sell firearms. Residents in the Township asked for zoning rules changes “to limit activities on the property,” the Appeals Court noted.
The Township amended its zoning rules the following year to include a couple of conditions.
Item one was the “Rim-Fire Rifle Rule” limiting gun clubs to “pistol range, skeet shoot, trap and skeet, and rimfire rifle” practice, the court noted.
Item two is the “Non-Profit Ownership Rule” which the court explained this way: “In contrast to prior rules, which did not distinguish between for-profit and non-profit entities, the ordinance now defines a ‘Sportsman’s Club’ as a ‘nonprofit entity formed for conservation of wildlife or game, and to provide members with opportunities for hunting, fishing or shooting.’”
The District Court sided with the Township, but the Appeals Court reversed and remanded the case for further consideration. The District Court, according to the 32-page decision this week, did not provide a “substantive ruling” before dismissing the case, so Drummond and SAF appealed a second time.
This time, the Court of Appeals sent the case back again, vacating the District Court’s dismissal and remanding for discovery, “for a prompt ruling on the pending motion for a preliminary injunction” against the Township.
The new ruling was written by Circuit Judge Cheryl Ann Krause. She was joined by Judges Kent A. Jordan and Luis Felipe Restrepo.
Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb is confident of a favorable ruling in the case on remand.
“By the time our victory in this case is finalized,” Gottlieb said, “it will add Second Amendment protection to gun clubs, gun stores and gun ranges because it provides for heightened levels of scrutiny for cases involving gun ranges.
“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,” he continued. “It amounts to Second Amendment violations and business discrimination under color of law.”
Gottlieb vowed to continue “pursuing this and similar cases because our mission is to win firearms freedom, one lawsuit at a time.”