Challenge to Zoning Restrictions on Shooting Clubs Can Continue
Today’s Third Circuit decision in Drummond v. Robinson Township, written by Judge Cheryl Krause and joined by Judges Kent Jordan & Felipe Restrepo, dealt with two zoning restrictions on “Sportsman’s Clubs” (basically a sort of shooting range that was permitted on particular kinds of land in the Township, labeled IBDs, meaning Interchange Business Districts):
- The Rim-Fire Rifle Rule: Whereas the old version of the ordinance allowed Sportsman’s Clubs to organize center-fire rifle practice (as did Drummond’s lease), the new version limits Clubs to “pistol range, skeet shoot, trap and skeet, and rim-fire rifle” practice.
- The Non-Profit Ownership Rule: In contrast to prior rules, which did not distinguish between for- profit and non-profit entities, the ordinance now defines a “Sportsman’s Club” as a “nonprofit entity formed for conservation of wildlife or game, and to provide members with opportunities for hunting, fishing or shooting.”
The court concluded that the restrictions were subject to “intermediate scrutiny”; they weren’t close enough to any historically accepted sorts of restrictions (which would make them valid), but they also didn’t substantially burden the core of the right to bear arms (which would subject them to strict scrutiny):
In contrast to Chicago’s “total ban” [on shooting ranges, which was struck down in an earlier Seventh Circuit case,] the Township’s ordinance preserves avenues for citizens to acquire weapons and maintain proficiency in their use. It prohibits commercially-operated Sportsman’s Clubs, but permits their non-profit counterparts. It forbids center-fire cartridges, but frees citizens to train with other forms of ammunition. And it regulates IBD districts, but opens two other districts to commercial ranges and center-fire rifle training. Because the ordinance stops short of a ban on firearms purchase and practice in the Township, the core right to self-defense emerges intact.
And the court remanded to the trial court for more fact-finding on whether the restrictions could be justified under intermediate scrutiny:
To survive intermediate scrutiny, a law must clear two hurdles. First, it must serve a “significant, substantial, or important” government interest. Second, “the fit between the asserted interest and the challenged law” must be “reasonable” and “may not burden more conduct than is reasonably necessary.” Though we owe “substantial deference” to local z
Article from Latest – Reason.com