State Z has extensive laws regulating the sale of firearms. These laws, which primarily impact gun dealers, are meant to prevent any individuals who may pose a risk to the safety of the community from obtaining firearms. The regulations require that gun shops perform background checks and other screenings; install and use multiple locks on all doors during off-hours; install metal bars or screens over their windows and doors; and have 24-hour security footage of the register, entrances, and exits.
Gun dealers must show that they have met the requirements of the regulations to be licensed in the state. Police officers are also permitted to conduct random inspections of firearms shops to ensure that the shops comply with the security regulations.
B owns a gun shop in State Z and is subject to these safety requirements. During a random inspection of B’s shop by a local police officer, the officer finds that B has not been adequately securing her building from break-ins during the times in which the shop was closed. Specifically, the front entrance was only secured by one lock (the other locks were broken and had not been repaired), and the video surveillance system was no longer functional.
Due to this failure, the state suspends B’s license, and the police department seizes all of the firearms in her shop pending investigation. Though B was notified of these official actions and the reasons for them, B has not been provided an opportunity for a hearing. The lack of a hearing follows standard police procedure, which calls for a delay in any official hearing until the completion of the investigation. Currently, these investigations take anywhere from six months to two years because of the significant backlog of cases and budget cuts that have resulted in understaffed police departments.
B decides to pursue the matter first with the local police department. Through casual meetings and the assistance of counsel, B attempts to negotiate with the city for the reinstatement of her license. Unfortunately, after six months B is still unable to rectify the matter. B is still without a license and inventory, and her shop remains closed. B’s work as a gun dealer is the only source of her income.
B files suit against State Z and the local police department, alleging that the failure to provide a post-seizure hearing violates her Fourteenth Amendment right to procedural due process.
QuestionHow should the court rule? Explain, analyzing only the procedural due process issue.
How should the court rule? Explain, analyzing only the procedural due process issue.