Ninth Circuit: Right to Bear Arms Includes Right to Acquire Arms

George Frey/Getty Images
George Frey/Getty

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday that the right to bear arms has historically included the right to acquire them, and remanded the case of Teixeira v. County of Alameda to the lower court.

Teixeira revolves around Alameda County zoning rules for incorporated areas that not only require a gun store owner to obtain requisite local, state, and federal permits for the business, but also make sure “the proposed location of the business is not within five hundred feet of a ‘[r]esidentially zoned district; elementary, middle or high school; pre-school or day care center; other firearms sales business; or liquor stores or establishments in which liquor is served.'”

After being denied the requisite county permits to open “Valley Guns and Ammo” — due to complaints of persons within 500 feet of the proposed business — Plaintiff John Teixeira contended that the “500-foot rule” was tantamount to a backdoor ban on gun stores. And while there was some question over the exact distance between the proposed store and some of those who complained, the issue for Teixeira turned on the right of due process and other rights protected by the Second Amendment.

Teixeira challenged Alameda County’s decision in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and lost. He then appealed the case to the 9th Circuit Court, where the ruling has remanded the case to the lower court.

In summarizing the latest ruling, the court pointed to the Ninth Circuit’s position that Alameda County “had offered nothing to undermine the panel’s conclusion that the right to purchase and to sell firearms is part and parcel of the historically recognized right to keep and to bear arms.”

Writing in the Majority Opinion, 9th Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain emphasized, “Our forefathers recognized that the prohibition of commerce in firearms worked to undermine the right to keep and to bear arms.”

O’Scannlain also pointed to the recognition of the importance of buying and selling firearms from the time of the English Bill of Rights (1689) to founding of the United States.

Regarding the era in which the United States was founded, O’Scannlain explained that the states which ratified that Second Amendment did so believing they were not simply protecting a right to keep and bear arms but to buy and sell them as well. He wrote:

The historical record indicates that Americans continued to believe that such right included the freedom to purchase and to sell weapons. In 1793, Thomas Jefferson noted that “[o]ur citizens have always been free to make, vend, and export arms. It is the constant occupation and livelihood of some of them.”

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at



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