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SAF: LA forcing gun stores to close for “safety” was a ruse to violate 2nd Amendment

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Many power-hungry politicians trashed the Constitution during the pandemic and the lockdowns. Jobs were lost. Homes were lost. Anti-gun counties shoved there gun grabbing agendas under the phony pretense of health and safety. Case after case was filed to protect constitutional rights.

The Ninth Circuit Court came through for the constitution.


BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation scored a double victory in California with a unanimous 9th U.S. Circuit Court panel declaring COVID-19 related shutdowns of gun stores and shooting ranges in Los Angeles and Ventura counties were unconstitutional.

The cases are known as McDougall v. Ventura County and Martinez v. Villaneuva. In the McDougall case, SAF was joined by the California Gun Rights Foundation (CGRF), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and two private citizens. In the Martinez case, SAF was joined by CGRF, FPC and the National Rifle Association.

Writing for the court and referring to the McDougall case, Judge Lawrence VanDyke observed, “from March 20 to May 7, 2020—a total of 48 days—the Orders mandated the closure of gun shops, ammunition shops, and firing ranges throughout the County to the general public, including Appellants. The closure prohibited County residents from leaving their homes to acquire any firearms or ammunition and maintain proficiency in the use of firearms at firing ranges…The County never explained its rationale behind the designations of businesses and activities deemed ‘Essential.’ The Orders therefore denied anyone who did not possess both a firearm and ammunition on March 19, 2020, from exercising their fundamental rights protected by the Second Amendment until at least May 7.”

Judge VanDyke subsequently predicted, “I’m not a prophet, but since this panel just enforced the Second Amendment, and this is the Ninth Circuit, this ruling will almost certainly face an en banc challenge. This prediction follows from the fact that this is always what happens when a three-judge panel upholds the Second Amendment in this circuit.”

“Both cases illustrate the egregious pattern of anti-gun sentiment among California officials,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “Officials in both counties offered no explanation or justification for shutting down gun stores and shooting ranges, while allowing hardware stores or bicycle shops to remain open. Neither hardware or bicycles are mentioned in the Constitution, but firearms certainly are protected, and everybody knows it.

“These cases highlight the pattern of abuses California officials routinely direct toward the Second Amendment,” he added. “We agree with Judge VanDyke’s prediction of an en banc challenge, and we’re prepared to fight that battle, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. As Judge Andrew Kleinfeld wrote in his concurring opinion, ‘Neither pandemic nor even war wipes away the Constitution.’”



LOS ANGELES (May 15, 2020) — Just days before a hearing on a motion for preliminary injunction against orders banning gun stores from operating, lawyers for the County of Ventura, California, have filed documents with federal District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall saying the defendants, including the County, Sheriff Bill Ayub, and Dr. Robert Levin, the County’s Public Health Officer, have issued a new order to re-open firearm and ammunition dealers throughout the county. 

Key filings in McDougall v. County of Ventura, including the County’s latest order, can be viewed or downloaded online at

Ronda N. Baldwin-Kennedy, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said that the County’s latest filing was a move to avoid losing the case early. “The defendants were obviously wrong on the law and had no constitutional support for their frivolous arguments, so it makes sense for them to change course now. We are delighted that this lawsuit moved the County to issue another order so that our clients and the people of Ventura County can exercise their constitutional rights.”

“The facts are that the Ventura County defendants made it a crime for individuals to patronize and operate firearm and ammunition retailers, and worse, these government officials banned travel for firearms and ammunition as ‘non-essential’. Those are precisely the kinds of actions our Constitution was designed to protect against, so we look forward to the next phase of litigation in this lawsuit,” said the plaintiffs’ co-counsel, attorney Raymond DiGuiseppe.

Ultimately, they have already admitted in court that they violated constitutionally enumerated rights,” noted FPC Director of Legal Strategy, Adam Kraut. “Especially because there may be a second or third wave of COVID-19, we will seek an injunction so that they cannot do this again, should cases spike.”   

“This legal action was and remains about winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time,” explained SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The county choosing to re-open firearm and ammunition transactions rather than face our motion in court is a victory for gun owners and the Second Amendment.”

“Onerous California laws make access to operating gun stores a requirement to exercise your Second Amendment rights,” explained CGF Chairman Gene Hoffman. “The right to self-defense is only more important during times of crisis, so Ventura Health Officer Dr. Levin appropriately changed course and issued a new order. Just as we have required of governments around the nation, gun stores in Ventura are now able to re-open.”

The individuals in the case were backed and joined by Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), and California Gun Rights Foundation (CGF). Defendants in the case include Ventura County Sheriff William “Bill” Ayub, William T. Foley, the Director of the Ventura County Public Health Care Agency, Robert Levin, the Public Health Medical Director and Health Officer for Defendant County of Ventura, and the County of Ventura, California.

“County of Ventura officials were either outrageously ignorant or arrogant to think they had the authority to redline fundamental, individual rights,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “They should remember that they are just local officials on a power trip, not dictators, and we will continue to seek justice for their abusive constitutional violations.”

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