The Second Amendment Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit against Alameda County after county supervisors barred a gun shop from opening in San Lorenzo.
"We believe the supervisors' actions are a denial of equal rights and due process protected by the 14th Amendment and the rights of gun ownership under the Second Amendment," said Alan Gottlieb, the Second Amendment Foundation's executive vice president.
Businessmen John Teixeira, Steve Nobriga and Gary Gamaza had been granted a variance and conditional use permit in December to open Valley Guns & Ammo at 488 Lewelling Blvd. in San Lorenzo. The San Lorenzo Village Homes Association then appealed the decision. In February, supervisors overturned the West County Board of Zoning Adjustments and denied the permit.
The partners had planned to sell antique guns, specialized sporting goods weapons and offer gunsmith and cleaning services. In addition, they would have offered classes in gun safety, maintenance and hunting safety.
The shop also would have accepted consignment sales. Teixeira, who owned a gun shop in Castro Valley before he retired, said he wanted to help people dispose of their weapons. Several of his former customers are getting elderly and want a place where they know they will get a decent price for their guns, he said.
The variance was required because the county said the shop would be closer than 500 feet to two residential areas. One of the issues the lawsuit
"The facts in this case are outrageous," Gottlieb said. When the three businessmen began the process of getting permits to open their shop, they were advised of a requirement that gun stores not be located within 500 feet of any school, liquor store or residence, he said.
"After carefully measuring distances between the shop's front door and the front door of the nearest property," he continued, "they found that they were well beyond the 500-foot limit. But then the county changed the measurement requirements."
"We did everything right, everything correct," Teixeira said. "We were told a number of times we were OK with our application."
Alameda County Counsel Donna Ziegler said, "It's my understanding that the county followed its standard procedures and policies for dealing with this permit." She said the county has not been served yet, but "we're prepared to defend the litigation."
According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Oakland, the county also allowed an objection to the permit to be filed after the deadline had passed.
"It is clear from the county board of supervisors' behavior that they have gone out of their way to prevent three businessmen from opening a gun store in their jurisdiction," Gottlieb said.
"If you wanted to open a bookstore and were turned down, there would be outrage. We believe a gun store should have the same protection under the Second Amendment as bookstores have under the First Amendment," he said.
The Second Amendment Foundation is joined in the lawsuit by the Calguns Foundation, California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees and Teixeira, Nobriga and Gamaza. They are represented by attorneys Donald Kilmer of San Jose and Jason Davis of Rancho Santa Margarita.
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.