There have been so many instances that people say things like “I don’t see anywhere in the Second Amendment where it says you can xyz.” Xyz, of course is a stand in for any argument that someone who’s not civil rights minded might make against what the Second Amendment means.
A crucial and important element of the exercise of our Second Amendment right is the ability to practice and train. To practice and train, we must have access to facilities and ranges to take part in live fire exercises. Arguments in the 2019 SCOTUS NYSRPA v. City of New York case were made about how the right to keep and bear arms, and to be able to do so
responsibly, one must have access to ranges for practice. While the case was deemed moot by the majority of the justices, Justice Alito in his dissent noted the following:
“And still another is to take a gun to a range to gain and maintain the skill necessary to use it responsibly. As we said in Heller, ‘ ‘to bear arms implies something more than the mere keeping [of arms]; it implies the learning to handle and use them in a way that makes those who keep them ready for their efficient use.’ ’ 554 U. S., at 617–618 (quoting T. Cooley, Constitutional Law 271 (1880)); see also Luis v. United States, 578 U. S. ___, ___ (2016) (THOMAS, J., concurring in judgment) (slip op., at 3) (‘The right to keep and bear arms . . . ‘implies a corresponding right . . . to acquire and maintain proficiency in their use’); Ezell v. Chicago, 651 F. 3d 684, 704 (CA7 2011) (‘[T]he core right wouldn’t mean much without the training and practice that make it effective’)’“
A recent win in Pennsylvania illustrates this concept. The situation started several years ago with a suit being filed in 2018. The particulars revolved around a zoning ordinance, which the Township of Robinson and Zoning Officer Mark Dorsey were responsible for and kept Plaintiffs William Drummond and GPGC LLC from being able to operate a sportsmen’s club. Joining Drummond and GPGC was the Second Amendment Foundation in this litigation. Drummond LLC v. Robinson Township had a winding and rocky road and on October 13, 2021, a Preliminary Injunction Order was put in place. The order spells out some of the details of the case as well as offers relief.
“The subject property (‘Property’), known largely as the “Greater Pittsburgh Gun Club” (GPGC), operated as a commercial gun club, with certain gaps in operation, from the mid 1960’s until January 2018. The Property consists of approximately 265 acres situated in Robinson Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.
William Drummond entered into a lease with his uncle, Joseph Donald Freund, Jr., for the 265-acre parcel located at 920 King Road in Robinson Township ‘for purposes of operating a gun club, the retail sale of firearms, and operating a shooting range.’
On March 15, 2018, Mr. Drummond submitted an Application for Zoning Permit, representing to the Township that he intended to operate a Sportsman’s Club on the premises. (ECF No. 1, ⁋ 40).
On April 9, 2018, the Board of Supervisors enacted Ordinance 01-2018, to amend the Township’s Zoning Ordinance in three respects:
a. A definition of ‘Sportsman’s Club’ was added to Section 601 of the Zoning Ordinance, which provided that a “Sportsman’s Club” is ‘[a] nonprofit entity formed for conservation of wildlife or game, and to provide members with opportunities for hunting, fishing, or shooting.’
b. Paragraph D was added to Section 311 of the Zoning Ordinance, regulating ‘Sportsman’s Clubs,’ which provided that ‘[o]utdoor shooting activities shall be limited to pistol range, skeet shoot, trap and skeet, and rim-fire rifles;’ and
c. ‘Section 208, Table 208(A) IBD Interchange Business Development District Table of Allowed Uses shall be amended to reflect the zoning change set forth herein. Specifically, a Sportsman’s Club shall no longer be allowed as a Permitted Use in an IBD Interchange Business Development District and shall instead only be allowed as a Conditional Use in an IBD Interchange Business Development District.’
On April 13, 2018, Mr. Drummond received notice that his Application for Zoning Permit had been denied, as his application did not indicate that the GPGC was organized as a not-for profit entity.”
Thick and weighty are the details of this case, but also fickle. Also, from the preliminary injunction Drummond et.al. received the following good news:
“Based on the foregoing findings of fact and conclusions of law, Plaintiffs’ Preliminary Injunction is hereby GRANTED as follows: Defendants, their officers, agents, servants, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of the injunction are enjoined from enforcing Robinson Township Zoning Ordinance Sections 311(D), 601, and 208, Table 208(A).”
While this is a Preliminary Injunction, this is still a very large win for all Americans. The matter of townships bullying their way to a disarmed population is one that should not proliferate. This ban through regulation tactic needs to be stopped dead in its tracks and that’s exactly what this order does.
SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb had several comments to make about this victory in a press
“’We’re happy with the judge’s ruling because this should signal an end to Mr. Drummond’s problems with Robinson Township,’ said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. ‘Government simply cannot use zoning restrictions to put a business they don’t like out of business.’
‘The judge was forced to issue the ruling after twice having the case remanded back to her by the federal appeals court, where SAF and the other plaintiffs received favorable rulings that the case should proceed,’ Gottlieb noted.”
More about the order:
“In her ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn J. Horan noted, ‘Although the courts owe ‘substantial deference’ to local zoning decisions, restrictions on rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment…must still satisfy intermediate scrutiny…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.’
‘Gun ranges are a necessary component in the exercise of Second Amendment rights,’ Gottlieb observed. ‘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.’
‘This court victory is important because it shows your Second Amendment rights don’t stop at your front door,’ Gottlieb said. ‘It’s essential to our mission of winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.’”
Gottlieb is correct in his assertion that we’re winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time. If only the anti-civil rights crowd would smarten up and stop their shenanigans. Think about how much tax money would be saved if the dug-in jurisdictions did not try to defend these awful policies. Kudos! to Drummond and the Second Amendment Foundation for standing up for what’s right.
As for those of us that have access to facilities. Practice and train often! Remember to sharpen those skills regularly with trusted trainers.
Stay safe out there and think before you do!
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of “Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use” and USCCA certified instructor, NRA certified pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws.