Second Amendment groups and gun stores are joining forces and lawyering up to remain open in the face of state and local orders to close up shop.
While governors in several states from coast to coast– such as Illinois, Lousiana, and Mississippi– have recognized gun and ammo suppliers as “essential” during the COVID-19 quarantine, allowing them to remain open without question, some have gone the other way.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed by the Second Amendment Foundation to keep the Garden State’s gun shops open to the public. Federal District Judge Michael A. Shipp has so far declined to issue an injunction in the matter and has asked for briefs from both the state and SAF at the end of next week.
In Delaware, officials backpedaled from closing gun shops, which pro-gun groups say was the right thing to do.
“This is a great win for Delaware gun owners and the right to keep and bear arms,” said SAF founder and Alan Gottlieb in a statement emailed to Guns.com. “After we sued New Jersey, our threatened lawsuit against Delaware, in which we were partnering with our friends at the National Rifle Association and Firearms Policy Coalition played a key role in bringing about this change of heart.”
Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) at first left FFLs off the list of “essential” businesses allowed to remain open, triggering legal action and a split decision by the state Supreme Court weighed in the Governor’s favor. However, Wolf’s office quietly amended his executive order this week to include gun shops on his greenlighted list.
In Texas, state Rep. Dustin Burrows has asked the Texas Attorney General’s office to weigh in on local area gun store closing edicts as a violation of state preemption law. “Finally, let me also say, having access to firearms and ammunition for self-defense and hunting, in times like these, is clearly essential,” said Burrows, a Lubbock area Republican.
In California, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore says gun shops in the county provide a “valuable public service” and will remain open, a stark contrast from Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva who has declared such stores “nonessential businesses” that will be forced to close except for selling ammo to security companies or transferring a gun already purchased but not yet delivered due to the state’s 10-day waiting period. The California Rifle and Pistol Association is promising legal action against Villanueva.
Villanueva is also facing criticism from LA County Supervisors, with local media saying the gun store decision is to blame.
Modern Problems Require Modern Solutions
Meanwhile, several gun stores are trying to get ahead of the curve through a variety of means. In the Bluegrass State, the Kentucky Gun Co has started what they call the “Nation’s first guns & ammo Drive-Thru” with two gun lanes and one ammunition lane. Others are offering curbside service while in New Jersey, SC Arms of Spotswood reportedly has what is billed as an uber ammo delivery service.
One gun store in North Carolina is determined to remain open because they are also a FEDEX agent, which is deemed an “essential business” type. Some stores are reportedly now also propane exchange agents, allowing them to remain open.
“The NSSF is working hard during this national crisis to make sure that our members are allowed to stay in business, providing safety and security for Americans and crucial products for members of the law enforcement and military communities,” says the trade organization. “This includes an effort to inform the Department of Homeland Security on the essential nature of our firearm and ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and ranges – all of which should be explicitly listed as part of our nation’s Critical Infrastructure.”
When it comes to additional legal challenges, the Firearms Policy Coalition has established an official Covid-19 legal action hotline to report infringements of Second Amendment rights.