Prince George’s County in Maryland has put a halt to all gun shows for the indefinite future. The reason for the move is uncertainty over where state and federal legislation regarding gun control is going, and fears for public safety should people decide to protest the shows. While the Maryland National-Capital Park and Planning Commission said this is a temporary moratorium pending legislation decisions, Frank Krasner, the owner of the Silverado Gun Show, which was slated for this past weekend, is upset about the cancellation.
Krasner told the Washington Examiner, “This is legal trade we’re talking about, not the black market. This not only took money out of my pocket, but close to 100 exhibitors.” He also said that the county is punishing law-abiding citizens this way. People on the show’s Facebook page called the action anti-2nd Amendment, and mentioned the oft-used “punishing law-abiding citizens” comment when responding to the announcement.
One commenter said:
“What’s next? Our right to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness? I thought someone wrote: We hold these truths to be SELF-EVIDENT……….! Strip away your 2nd Amemdment (sic), and pretty soon they come after your 1st. Seeing as they are preventing our Right to Assemble, they already have. Wake up, and start shouting from all corners. YOUR RIGHTS ARE BEING STRIPPED AWAY. DON’T BE QUIET, YOUR VOICES MUST BE HEARD.”
Despite the assertion of many that banning gun shows is a violation of the 2nd Amendment, on May 2, 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Nordyke v. King that banning gun shows on public property does not constitute such a violation. The Supreme Court’s rulings in Heller v. District of Columbia, and in McDonald v. Chicago, that handgun bans and bans on various types of carry have a substantial negative effect on the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, and that the substantial burden applies to state and local laws as well as federal laws, were taken into account when the 9th Circuit made its ruling.
The Supreme Court did not hear the Nordyke case, according to an April 2012 post on SCOTUSblog.com, and, according to a June 2012 post, the case is not likely to ever reach the high court due to a decision by Alameda County to allow the shows, provided that the guns at the shows are tethered so that people can’t take them. The blog does concede that at some point, the Court will have to decide on a standard of review for 2nd Amendment cases, as the lower courts are struggling with how to handle them.
Sporting goods stores, gun shops, and other authorized dealers are still legally able to sell guns, and people are still legally able to buy them and keep them in Alameda County, the defendant in Nordyke. The same is true of Prince George’s County in Maryland. The county did not ban gun sales, it did not ban classes of guns, it did not stipulate that guns can only be kept in an unloaded, or even dismantled, state. It did not restrict ownership and it did not make self-defense and the defense of one’s home unnecessarily difficult. It just put a stop to gun shows in a temporary move pending new state and federal regulations. It’s hard to see how this is an infringement on the right to keep and bear arms.
It might be money out of Krasner’s pocket, as well as out of the pockets of all his exhibitors, and for that, anybody would be angry. But it would seem that, at least for now, the county is within its legal rights to ban the shows.