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Drummond v. Robinson Twp.

3rd Circuit

August 17, 2021

The Third Circuit revisited the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. The Greater Pittsburgh Gun Club operated on a 265-acre tract of land for nearly a century until it closed after its owner’s conviction for possessing weapons by a convicted felon. A decade later, the plaintiff leased the land to open a gun shop and a shooting range. Though zoning rules permitted those uses, nearby residents requested stricter zoning laws because they worried that the firing of high-powered rifles would be a nuisance and danger. The township then passed new zoning laws, which limited the firearms that may be discharged on the premises. The plaintiff sued and requested a preliminary injunction, claiming the new zoning ordinance was facially unconstitutional. The District Court dismissed the complaint, and the plaintiff appealed. Employing the two-step process from United States v. Marzzarella, the Third Circuit reversed. It held that the zoning rule deviated from historical paradigms and, thus, the plaintiff had sufficiently pleaded the first element. Under intermediate scrutiny, the Court then held that the plaintiff had satisfied his pleading burden, and further factfinding was needed to determine whether the challenged rules imposed a slight burden or a substantial one.

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