Gun store owner sues county over shelter-in-place ordinance

While several counties are under a shelter in place, one gun store owner and U.S. House of Representatives candidate has turned to the courts for help in fighting his county’s ordinance.

The owner of Clyde Armory in Athens has sued the Athens-Clarke County government. Andrew Clyde calls the shelter-in-place ordinance "unconstitutional." 

This is how his lawyer views it.

“A nice way to say house arrest,” says attorney Mo Wiltshire, who represents Clyde. “If they’re not ill, and you can’t show they’ve been exposed, you can’t lock ‘em up.”

Clyde’s lawyers filed the 23-page lawsuit in Athens-Clarke County Superior Court, also naming the city manager and attorney as defendants. 

The lawsuit alleges that local governments don’t have the lawful authority to force healthy individuals to stay home.

Although Wiltshire says their actions were well-intentioned, he says, “our rights and the rules don’t get thrown out the window because things are difficult.” 

The ACC government unanimously imposed the shelter-in-place ordinance last week, requiring residents to stay home 24/7. This came shortly after the city imposed a curfew and declared a state of emergency. 

Essential activities, such as grocery shopping, and operating essential businesses, such as gas stations and gun stores, are the exception. 

Athens Mayor Kellly Girtz stands by the ordinance that he says is constitutional.

“There are always distractions that come along, but I don’t think of this lawsuit as anything other than just a fly on the windshield.”

Mayor Girtz and the commission will meet Tuesday to discuss ways to support local businesses.

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