Saturday, July 27, 2002

Gun shop owner will fire on in court

By Jim Hannah,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT - Peter Garrett lost in court on Friday, but the Newport man says he'll take his fight to the Kentucky Supreme Court for what he says is his right to open a gun shop anywhere in the Commonwealth.

[photo] Peter Garrett works on a handgun in his Newport shop in this 1999 photo.
(Enquirer file photo)
| ZOOM |
        In a ruling released Friday, the state Court of Appeals ruled that despite a state law prohibiting municipalities from limiting gun sales or transport, local governments can use planning and zoning rules to dictate where a gun shop may locate. That decision affirms an earlier decision made by Campbell County Circuit Court on behalf of Bellevue and Dayton, Ky.

        Mr. Garrett wants to expand his successful Monmouth Street gunsmith business to locations in Bellevue and Dayton.

        In Bellevue, he was denied permission to locate in a historic preservation zone. And in Dayton, he was not allowed to open a shop in the central business district.

        “We expected he would request the Supreme Court to hear this case,” said Jack Fischer, Dayton city solicitor. “But Judge (David) Buckingham made a good decision in upholding the lower court's ruling.”

        The city is prepared to fight the to the end, Mr. Fischer said.

        After denying Mr. Garrett's permits in 2000, the cities said Mr. Garrett would be allowed to open stores in other areas. In Bellevue, it was the town's only strip center. . In Dayton, it was on the riverbank in front of the floodwall.

        Mr. Garrett said he wants his business to remain in the central business district of a river town, someplace with lower rent and with character, not in a strip center.

        He said his gun shop dates back to 1874 when it was in downtown Cincinnati. He said the business moved to Newport around the turn of the 20th century.

        Mr. Garrett first took the two cities to Campbell County Circuit Court in 2000. His suit argues that a 1984 law passed by the General Assembly outlawed any local regulation of the gun business.

        The law, passed in Frankfort with the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, prohibits local governments from any regulation “of the transfer, ownership, possession, carrying or transportation of firearms, ammunition or components of firearms .

        Reacting to the ruling by the appeals court, Mr. Garrett said, “I think it is judicial activism at its worst.” “I think these guys had their minds made up before they ever heard our case. That is how they operate.”

        Judge Buckingham said in the unanimous ruling of the three-judge panel that the legislation covered a wide range of firearms-related activities that local governments could not regulate, but did not include land use planning or zoning of firearms sellers.

        “Without the power to control the location of gun shops and firearms dealers, a city could find itself at the mercy of the firearms business that could begin operating wherever they choose, for example in the heart of a community surrounded by single-family homes,” Judge Buckingham wrote.

        Bellevue City Manager Don Martin was out of town Friday and couldn't be reached for comment.

        The Associated Press contributed.



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