The Ninth Circuit sided with the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) on Thursday when it struck down a Los Angeles County order that forced gun stores and shooting ranges to close in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. NRA-ILA originally challenged this order in March of 2020, and filed an appeal a year later.
"The court today rightfully recognized that Los Angeles County violated Second Amendment rights when it shut down gun stores and ranges in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Michael Jean, NRA's director of the Office of Litigation Counsel. "This is an important decision. It ensures that California -- or any state -- cannot use a crisis to trample on the Constitutional rights of citizens."
The decision highlights that these orders, which prevented the exercise of basic constitutional rights like acquiring and practicing with firearms, could have been “perpetually extended if the County so decided.”
Given the current state of the world and the periodic resurgence of COVID-19 continuing to affect daily life, this decision ensures that states cannot restrict the fundamental rights of Americans for any reason. In this spirit, the decision concludes by citing Justice Gorsuch’s words: “Even in times of crisis—perhaps especially in times of crisis—we have a duty to hold governments to the Constitution.”
NRA-ILA also challenged overbearing COVID-19 restrictions in New Mexico and New York. In addition to Los Angeles County, NRA-ILA challenged four additional counties in northern California.
The case is captioned Martinez v. Villanueva. NRA-ILA was joined by local gun stores and ranges, the California Gun Rights Foundation, the Firearms Policy Coalition, and the Second Amendment Foundation in this lawsuit.