BELLEVUE, WA – Seventeen plaintiffs including the Second Amendment Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit naming an almost equal number of local and county governments and officials within those jurisdictions in Northern California, asking the court for injunctive and declaratory relief in a challenge to gun control measures instituted in relation to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
SAF is joined by the California Gun Rights Foundation, California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, Inc., Firearms Policy Coalition, Madison Society Foundation and the National Rifle Association, along with three private businesses and eight private citizens. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. They are represented by attorney George M. Lee of San Francisco. The complaint may be read here.
“The importance of this Second Amendment Case is highlighted by the huge number of plaintiffs and defendants,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb.
Gene Hoffman, chairman of the California Gun Rights Foundation, added, “In this challenging time it is critical that common sense and the law prevail. We’re demanding that our local officials set aside their policy preferences and clearly and unequivocally follow the Constitution. It is exactly in these sorts of emergencies, where law enforcement response can be severely impacted, that everyone needs the tools and training required to safely defend their homes.”
“These governments’ contempt for individuals’ enumerated constitutional rights reinforces the need for the courts to step in and prevent government officials from overstepping constitutional bounds,” proclaimed Adam Kraut, FPC’s Director of Legal Strategy and co-counsel on the lawsuit. “We will continue to work with our friends to bring litigation against governments that refuse to recognize the People’s inalienable right to keep and bear arms, particularly in times where it is most needed.”
“The Bay Area is not exempt from the Bill of Rights, and these outrageous and irrational restrictions on gun stores and ranges is a policy preference that the Constitution takes off the table,” explained FPC President Brandon Combs. “FPC and our partners look forward to reminding these governments and officials that the People’s Constitution is bigger than their personal opinions.”
Named as defendants are Alameda County and County Health Officer Erica Pan; Contra Costa County and County Health Officer Chris Farnitano; Santa Clara County, District attorney Jeffrey Rosen and County Health officer Sara Cody; and San Mateo County and County Health Officer Scott Morrow; plus the City of Pacifica and Police Chief Dan Steidle, the City of San Jose and Mayor Sam Liccardo; the City of Mountain View and Police Chief Max Bosel; and the City of Pleasant Hill and its Police Chief Bryan Hill.
The complaint targets emergency orders issued in relation to the coronavirus pandemic that prevent citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights by closing retail gun stores as “non-essential businesses.” Because California law requires background checks done by licensed dealers for every firearm transfer in the state, it is impossible for Californians to buy, sell or even loan firearms because no background checks are available in these jurisdictions.
“Local governments in California, or anywhere else for that matter, cannot simply suspend the Constitution, even using a public health crisis as an excuse,” Gottlieb stated. “In this case, they are using the COVID-19 crisis as political cover to put restrictions on a constitutional right they don’t like, and we’re taking action to stop them.”