After three years and two federal appeals court decisions, a Pennsylvania gun club will finally be able to operate.
A federal judge ruled in favor of the owner of the Greater Pittsburgh Gun Club on Wednesday by issuing a preliminary injunction against Robinson Township. The order prohibits the Pittsburgh-area township from enforcing its restrictive zoning ordinance banning the use of center-fire rifles and requiring non-profit status for all gun clubs to operate in the area.
“Although the courts owe ‘substantial deference’ to local zoning decisions, restrictions on rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment must still satisfy intermediate scrutiny,” U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn J. Horan said in her ruling. “At this stage and for purposes of the Motion for Preliminary Injunction, the Township has not provided evidence that the challenged Ordinance provisions…in fact serve the asserted government interests of health, safety, and welfare.”
The decision follows an earlier ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturning a dismissal of the case. It directed the lower court to examine the Second Amendment claims of the gun club owner under heightened scrutiny.
Judge Horan indicated that the restrictive ordinance appeared to violate the Second Amendment upon review.
“Based upon the present record before the Court, the Plaintiffs have sufficiently established a likelihood of success on the merits that the three challenged Ordinance provisions facially violate the Second Amendment,” she said.
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) represented the owner of the Greater Pittsburgh Gun Club, William Drummond, in the case. The group said they were pleased with Wednesday’s ruling.
“We’re happy with the judge’s ruling because this should signal an end to Mr. Drummond’s problems with Robinson Township,” Alan M. Gottlieb, SAF founder, said in a press release. “Government simply cannot use zoning restrictions to put a business they don’t like out of business.”
The group emphasized that they believe gun ranges to be vital to an individual’s Second Amendment rights and criticized the township’s ordinance for infringing on the right.
“Gun ranges are a necessary component in the exercise of Second Amendment rights,” Gottlieb said. “Even Judge Horan recognized this in her ruling, where she quoted the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller that ‘The right to bear arms ‘implies something more than mere keeping; it implies the learning to handle and use them; . . . it implies the right to meet for voluntary discipline in arms.’ In essence, the township was trying to zone out the Second Amendment.”
He said that the court decision was an important step in the group’s mission to advance gun rights.
“This court victory is important because it shows your Second Amendment rights don’t stop at your front door,” Gottlieb said.