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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Gun shows caught in crossfire with gun bans

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Before the end of this year, Russell and Sallie Nordyke will set up shop for at least five gun shows at the Santa Clara County, Calif., fairgrounds, providing a gathering spot for enthusiasts to buy and sell rifles, pistols and other weapons.

For the California couple, the southern San Francisco Bay Area is a small island amid a sea of hostility toward their TS Gun Shows. Nearby counties have enacted laws that forbid the sale or possession of guns on government property, effectively banning gun shows at some of the best spots to hold them.

The Nordykes believe those laws are unconstitutional — and on Monday, a federal appeals court will once again take up their 12-year quest to strike down the regulations.

Specifically, an 11-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel is to hear arguments in the Nordykes’ legal challenge to Alameda County’s ordinance, which has outlawed gun shows at the fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif., since 1999.

With gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association on one side and gun control advocates such as the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on the other, the Nordyke case is being closely watched across the country. The showdown is considered a barometer of how far local and state governments can go in regulating guns following U.S. Supreme Court rulings expanding constitutional protections for the right to bear arms. The most recent of those rulings, in a Chicago case two years ago, established that the Second Amendment applies to state and local gun control regulations. But it left unresolved the legal survival threshold for laws such as Alameda County’s, and the 9th Circuit is expected to tackle that issue in the Nordyke case.

“This could be the next big gun case to go to the Supreme Court,” said Adam Winkler, a University of California, Los Angeles, law professor and author of “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America.” “It does pose a big question: whether the right to bear arms extends outside the home.”

Winkler cautioned, however: “The gun show promoters have an uphill climb. When managing its own property, the government usually has a lot of (leeway).”

In fact, a three-judge 9th Circuit panel in 2009 upheld the county’s law, finding it a “reasonable” form of regulation, but the court decided to reconsider the case with an 11-judge panel in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s major gun rights rulings.

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