High Bridge Arms gun store general manager Steven Alcairo displays a rifle at the shop located on Mission Street, which closed in 2015. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

US Appeals Court to reconsider challenge to Alameda County gun store law

A federal appeals court in San Francisco agreed today to have an 11-judge panel review a challenge to an Alameda County ordinance that restricts the locations of gun stores.

The review by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was requested by Alameda County.

The county is appealing a decision in which a three-judge panel of the court said by a 2-1 vote in May that the right to buy and sell guns is “part and parcel” of the constitutional Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The smaller panel’s majority said the county should therefore have to justify the law under a rigorous standard, by proving that legal gun stores increase crime or harm neighborhood aesthetics.

The county contends the law is a reasonable way of maintaining public safety and is in keeping with U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gun rights and with historical regulation of commercial gun sales.

The 1998 ordinance prohibits locating gun stores within 500 feet of residential areas, schools, liquor stores and other gun shops in unincorporated areas of the county. Seventeen other cities and counties in California have similar regulations.

The 9th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over nine western states, grants reconsideration by an 11-judge panel in only a few cases considered to be of unusual constitutional importance each year.

It announced the expanded panel will hear arguments on the case in San Francisco in March.

The challenge to the county law was filed in federal court in San Francisco in 2012 by three businessmen who wanted to open a gun and firearms training store in an unincorporated part of San Leandro that was found by county zoning administrators to be within 500 feet of a residential area.

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