Witkin Is Zoned Out

This little piece of witlessness made the rounds last week:

Can zoning laws settle the gun debate?
If there could be a “right” to be free of guns, the logical question is then how it should be asserted. The answer may be in zoning. Because gun rights are tied to personal security, there appears to be room for citizens to exclude guns in their immediate surroundings as one means of protecting themselves.


The is no “right” to be free of guns owned by other people. Your rights do not extend to denying other people’s rights. One can choose to be free of guns by not owning one. One cannot choose to make anyone else not own a gun. You do not have a right to my property.

Because gun rights were tied to personal security, there appears to be room for citizens to exclude guns in their immediate surroundings as one means of protecting themselves.

Witkin cites Heller, and claims that a decision, which specifically ruled against firearms restrictions so onerous as to prevent possession, somehow supports… zoning laws that prevent possession.

For example, zoning at the neighborhood or even block level could allow people to assert a right to be free from guns. Zoning is a policy tool that courts have upheld even when it clashes with the constitutional rights of individuals, such as freedom of expression and the sale of guWill he volunteer to lead the stack in confiscation raids?ns.

And there he cites Teixeira to demonstrate that zoning laws can restrict Second Amendment rights. Wrongly:

The district court’s characterization of residentially-zoned districts” as “sensitive areas” is incongruous with Heller, which assumed that firearms could be restricted in sensitive places “such as schools and government buildings,” specifically in contrast to residences, where firearms could not be prohibited.

It seems unlikely that Witlesskin actually read Teixeira, any more than he read Heller. Teixeira did not uphold the restriction of 2A rights through zoning; it found that zoning which excluded a proposed gun store did not infringe upon a recognized right because there were other stores in the area where firearms could be purchased, and people could still possess firearms. That is the opposite of Witkin’s claim.

I repeat: Heller (and later McDonald) specifically ruled against firearms restrictions so onerous as to prevent possession.

No, you cannot zone away our rights.

Federal courts are pretty consistent in recognizing that one can’t simply wave away constitutional rights. Take a look at Winbigler v. Warren County Housing Authority, in which the plaintiff challenged a public housing lease provision banning firearms possession outright.

The Court hereby permanently enjoins and restrains Defendant WCHA from enforcing the following lease provisions:

5(h): The Resident, the Residents household members and household guests shall not: discharge or use firearms or fireworks, or store explosive or flammatory materials.

18(p): Any termination of this Lease shall be carried out in accordance with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations, State and local law, and the terms of this Lease. The Landlord shall not terminate or refuse to renew the Lease other than for serious or repeated violation of material terms of the Lease on the part of the Resident, all members of the Resident’s household and all visitors/guests of the Resident such as the following: Offensive weapons or illegal drugs seized in the Landlord’s unit by a law enforcement officer or to permit any member of the household, a guest, or another person under the Resident’s control to use, possess or have control over firearms (this includes keeping firearms on one’s body, in the dwelling unit, or in a vehicle which the Resident or a member of the Resident’s household as the use of or access to. Firearms are defined as any devices which will propel a projectile with sufficient force to injure, kill, or damage property regardless of whether it does so with an explosive charge, compressed gas, or by other means).

Georgetown University should be ashamed of publishing that ignorant drivel, and more so of the rights-violation advocacy.

You can’t do it. Not by zoning, not by lease, not by HOA restrictions. But ill-informed people like Witkin will keep trying, so let’s move on to the practical problem of enforcement, which he glosses over.

Ideally, enforcement of gun-free zoning laws should be generally light, such as civil forfeiture or forced sale of the firearm, but harsher on violent criminals who possess guns.

Compliance. He, as typically happens, left out the “How”.

Specifically, how Witkin would ensure everyone complied with his gun-free neighborhood laws. How will he locate and seize Grandma’s bedside table revolver? Door to door searches? With a warrant based upon, “Gee, judge; we just need to see if anyone might be breaking our law”? Perhaps he can pass a warrant-free zone law as well.

I wonder if he’s considered the implications of kicking in doors because he thinks the residents are well armed. When California legislators first considered their “assault weapon” ban, the head of the police union declared they’d see the largest outbreak of “blue flu” in history if they had to do door to door searches. Legislators immediately modified their bill.

Does Witkin believe everyone (law-abiding and criminal alike) will meekly turn stuff in? California got a 2.33% compliance rate with just registration. Connecticut thinks they might have gotten 13.44% compliance with their “assault weapon” registration scheme.

How will Witkin bell that cat?

Will he volunteer to lead the stack in confiscation raids?

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6 thoughts on “Witkin Is Zoned Out”

  1. Let him.

    Let him pass those zoning restrictions and declare whole neighborhoods as “gun-free zones”. Heck, make it so possession of firearms — ANY possession of ANY firearm, across the board — is a citable offense.

    I have only two conditions: 1. He has to live there. 2. He has to abide by those same rules he wants to force on others.

    Then let him watch as violent criminals (who don’t care what the law says) discover these “safe spaces” to ply their trades. Let him watch as the police (who have neither a duty to protect nor an exemption to this zoning requirement) refuse to enter this neighborhood to enforce laws.

    Like all “gun control”, “gun violence prevention”, and “gun safety” proposals, it’s not about safety or prevention. It’s about control, and it’s about the taking of individual rights for the benefit of the controllers.

    Witkin views himself as the controller and thinks the consequences will miss him because he’s above and on top of the scheme. He doesn’t realize that’s not how it works when you’re dealing with people (criminals) who don’t believe in or respect the scheme.

  2. These local zoning boards can do quite a lot of damage. I have a friend who owns a small business in a rural type country. Someone appointed by the county commissioners (mostly demoncrats, party of control) decided their would be no kennels in HIS county. Not boarding, not breeding, not period. You want to take a vacation, you take your money and your pet outside the county. How would the czar accomplish this? By dictating the hours and days the kennel would be open. And you would be working 7 days a week. There was a LOT the czar was dictating. And much of it was cruel to the animals which is what happens when “well meaning” ignorant asshats get positions of power. And since the commission was also corrupt, they didn’t see that tendency in their little aging hippie. Next the county commission and zoning czar decided to move on to limiting the amount of animals you could have. Something like 3 dogs, one cat or visa versa. Seriously, in rural areas where people dump animals. Was he going to show up and shoot them? Yeah, probably. Because “people don’t need that many animals”. Next the czar planned to limit the amount of horses people could own.

    Those politicians and their zoning czar were all crooked, I know, shock of shocks. They’re all gone for now. But local elections can have a HUGE impact on your life, sometimes bigger and faster than state or federal elections and how many people pay much attention to local country government? That can be a fatal mistake.

    1. Oh, yeah…

      In my town the council is pushing a HUGE rezoning plan for “downtown.” A big swath would be re-zoned for hundreds of cookie-cutter “tiny houses.” RVs and boats would be banned outright (which in coastal Georgia is insane, especially since these idiots think they can make this a big tourist destination). PERMEABLE parking lots and sidewalks would be banned (no explanation of where the run-off goes, and they already have a flooding problem downtown). Every building has to have the same color scheme… and height. Exterior security lighting is out.

      They plan would, in theory, suddenly increase the population density several times, but there’s no plan to upgrade the sewer and drainage infrastructure, which is… already overloaded.

      Then there’s the properties the town bought up (mostly without public comment accepted). They spent millions (which we don’t have — more bonds) to buy up land they used to get property taxes from. They paid around 3.5 times the appraised value. Bass Pro Shop wanted to build on it, but they refused them because they plan to turn it into a high density retirement community… for which they don’t have the sewer/water infrastructure to support.

      We have a multi-million dollar bond ($17 million, I believe) coming due, I think next year; that was to put in a sewage treatment plant up north where almost no one lives, because Oprah Winfrey once bought a house there, and they thought it would become… a high-density hangout for rich Hollywood types. Nope.

      The county joint economic development agency (fund to the tune of 40% by the town) hasn’t EVER done an audit, until someone finally wondered where millions of dollars went. The director was embezzling it. And while he was doing the tax withholding from employee payroll, he wasn’t actually forwarding the money to the IRS. Yeah, embezzled that, too. So the town is on the hook for a few million in back taxes and fines.

      Meanwhile, they’re spending around 5 million bucks to date, “developing” a space port. This is particularly bizarre because the DOD just forced our airport to close for base security reasons (we have a sub base). But they think the Navy will put up with rocket launches directly over their submarine channel (and a state park, federal wildlife refuge, National Seashore, and an occupied residential area)?

      At this rate, the idiots will need to pass a zoning law outlawing guns and ROPE, just to save their own skins.

    2. That sounds suspiciously like Mike Antonovich and north Los Angeles County, where that’s precisely how it went. And not for the benefit of animals or animal professionals, but for the benefit of ‘rescues’ who make TONS of money selling imported street dogs (which often come with disease including rabies, and at least two have killed someone within days of being ‘adopted’ but hey, we put all the evil breeders out of business so no worries!)

      Zoning was also used to force desert rats to leave or tear down their homes for not being “up to code” and “fully permitted” (despite being grandfathered in under the zoning regs). Most had little income and nowhere else to go, with predictable results.

      The real function of zoning is to increase property taxes by making high-density housing the only viable construction, just as the building permit system is used mostly at a revenue conduit, and only peripherally for the benefit of citizens. Only rarely is zoning for the benefit of the zoned. Over and over a peacefully unzoned rural area gets (usually against its will) chopped up by a county zoning commission, and suddenly the only permissible structures are houses and condos; goodbye business, industry, and agriculture. But hey, the construction contractors love it, and it sure looks a lot better on the property tax rolls (even if the long-term infrastructure costs gobble that up and then some, as they always do).

      Yeah, not a fan of zoning.

  3. Unfortunately this already has plenty of precedent as to what property you’re not allowed to own, according to your zoning. Animals (including more than 2 or 3 pets) and large vehicles are routinely prohibited by zoning ordinances.

    And by the same arguments: “No one needs to own six dogs” and “I don’t want their damn boat parked on my street.”

  4. It didn’t turn out that way in this rural county. All those politicians are gone. The media somehow showed up at a county commission meeting about the whole thing. The commission and their Czar expected maybe 25-30 cowed people. But the people had rallied. They held meetings, the called neighbors and customers. The asshats faced a rural crowd of around 125 with fire in their eyes. You do not mess with people fur children. Like I said, they were all gone in the next election. Little despots. They were dirty, corrupt controlling little tyrants. Hope the rest of their lives is miserable. Sorry, not feeling charitable. I probably need to work on that.

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