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Law Limiting California Gun Sales Survives Supreme Court

By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 18, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Declining to hear a closely-watched gun case, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a decision that California gun dealers have no Second Amendment right to sell firearms.

Without explanation or comment, the Supreme Court inaction effectively upholds a ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Teixeira v. County of Alameda. In that case, the appeals panel said the Constitution does not "confer a freestanding right on commercial proprietors to sell firearms."

Gun industry representatives decried the results, claiming state and local laws will be unleashed on them. For gun-control advocates, however, it is another notch in the drawn out gun control battle.

Gun Control Laws

The Supreme Court hasn't taken a Second Amendment case in almost a decade, which has largely left state and local regulations untouched. In California, Alameda County limited gun sales to areas at least five hundred feet away from residential zones, liquor stores, schools, and day care centers.

Business owners sued on Second Amendment grounds, but a trial judge dismissed and an appeals court panel affirmed. Then, the Ninth Circuit took another look at it, en banc, and the full panel also affirmed.

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed," Judge Marsha Berzon quoted in the majority decision.

The appeals panel said the amendment includes the right to purchase arms, but not the right to sell them.

"A textual and historical analysis of the Second Amendment demonstrates that the Constitution does not confer a freestanding right on commercial proprietors to sell firearms," the appeals court said.

'Major Setback'

Gun rights activists said the Supreme Court's action is a "major setback" for the Second Amendment. For the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which filed an amicus brief in the case, taking away sellers' rights is taking away buyers' rights.

The shooting foundation blamed the Supreme Court for failing to give guidance to lower courts on the Second Amendment since 2010. According to this group, the Ninth Circuit treated "Second Amendment rights as a 'second-class right.'"

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