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To win a preliminary injunction, a party must show that it has (1) no adequate remedy at law and will suffer irreparable harm if a preliminary injunction is denied and (2) some likelihood of success on the merits. If the moving party meets these threshold requirements, the district court weighs the factors against one another, assessing whether the balance of harms favors the moving party or whether the harm to the nonmoving party or the public is sufficiently weighty that the injunction should be denied. An appellate court reviews a district court's legal conclusions de novo, its findings of fact for clear error, and its balancing of the injunction factors for an abuse of discretion.
Plaintiffs challenged municipal ordinances that mandated one hour of training at a gun range as a prerequisite to lawful gun ownership but that also prohibited all firing ranges in the city. Plaintiffs contended that the Second Amendment protected the right to maintain proficiency in firearm use—including the right to practice marksmanship at a range—and the City's total ban on firing ranges was unconstitutional. Plaintiffs further argued that the Ordinance severely burdened the core Second Amendment right to possess firearms for self-defense because it conditioned possession on range training but simultaneously forbade range training everywhere in the city. Plaintiffs sought and were denied a preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement. Plaintiffs challenged the district court’s order denying their motion for a preliminary injunction.
Under the circumstances, were the plaintiffs entitled to preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the challenged municipal ordinances?
On review, the court reversed the district court’s order, holding that the central component of the Second Amendment, U.S. Const. amend. II, was the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, and home, and the right to possess firearms for protection implied a corresponding right to acquire and maintain proficiency in their use; the core right would not mean much without the training and practice that make it effective. The harms invoked by the city were entirely speculative and could be addressed by more closely tailored regulatory measures. Properly regulated firing ranges open to the public would not pose significant threats to public health and safety. On the other side of the scale, plaintiffs established a strong likelihood that they suffered violations of their Second Amendment rights every day the range ban was in effect. The balance of harms favored plaintiffs.