August 24, 2021
On August 17, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a precedential Second Amendment decision in the case of Drummond v. Robinson Township. The court reversed the district court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by William Drummond against Robinson Township challenging certain zoning regulations it put in place after he purchased the Greater Pittsburgh Gun Club. The new zoning regulations prohibited center-fire rifle practice, and restricted the operation of gun clubs to nonprofit entities.
Drummond first filed suit over the new zoning restrictions in July 2018. The district court dismissed the case soon afterwards, ruling that the Township’s zoning regulations did not violate Drummond’s Second Amendment rights. Drummond appealed to the Third Circuit, which reversed the dismissal and instructed the district court to engage in a “textual and historical” inquiry of whether the zoning regulations are consistent with the Second Amendment. On remand, the district court found that Drummond’s Second Amendment rights were implicated by the new zoning regulations, but determined that they were “reasonable,” and again dismissed the complaint.
On appeal for a second time, the Third Circuit held that the Second Amendment issues required a closer examination of the facts than the district court had conducted. It therefore vacated the order dismissing Drummond’s Second Amendment claims, reinstated the complaint, and directed the district court to gather more evidence on remand. In its decision, the Third Circuit addressed the significant burden the challenged zoning rules place on the ability to purchase and practice with firearms. It stated that “[t]he non-profit ownership rule, in particular, has already forced the Greater Pittsburgh Gun Club out of business, and may have the same effect on other Sportsman’s Clubs. It is plausible that those closures impair residents’ access to the weapons and skills commonly used to lawfully defend their homes.” The district court will now review the Second Amendment claims raised by this case for a third time. The ultimate decision in this case may prove relevant to other gun clubs and ranges challenging zoning regulations based on Second Amendment grounds.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor firearm related news and events around the country. If you have any questions concerning firearms related legislation, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.