Media Moves

Federal government declares gun shops essential

March 31, 2020

Posted by Irina Slav

The Trump administration declared gun shops were essential businesses that will stay open during the lockdown.

Lisa Marie Pane reported the news for the AP:

The Trump administration has ruled that gun shops are considered “essential” businesses that should remain open as other businesses are closed to try to stop the spread of coronavirus. Gun control groups are balking, calling it a policy that puts profits over public health after intense lobbying by the firearms industry.

In the past several weeks, various states and municipalities have offered different interpretations of whether gun stores should be allowed to remain open as Americans stay at home to avoid spreading the virus. In Los Angeles, for example, County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has twice ordered gun shops in his territory to close, leading to legal challenges from gun rights advocates.

After days of lobbying by the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and other gun groups, the Department of Homeland Security this past weekend issued an advisory declaring that firearms dealers should be considered essential services — just like grocery stores, pharmacies and hospitals — and allowed to remain open. The agency said its ruling was not a mandate but merely guidance for cities, towns and states as they weigh how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Reuters’ Lawrence Hurley wrote the move had drawn immediate criticism:

Gun control activists on Monday criticized guidance issued by President Donald Trump’s administration recommending that states find that gun stores are critical businesses that can stay open during the coronavirus crisis.

The new guidance, issued on Saturday by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, offers the administration’s views on which workers are essential during the pandemic at a time when state governors have ordered numerous “non-essential” businesses to close to try to limit the spread of the virus. The agency is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Gun control advocates said gun rights groups are sowing fear during the pandemic in order to boost firearms sales, adding that increased gun ownership during the crisis could lead to more domestic violence.

“Adding more guns to more homes during a time of more anxiety could lead to more deaths. And that’s the last thing we need when our hospitals are already bursting at the seams,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a leading gun control group.


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