Do Gun Shops Qualify as "Essential Businesses" During the Coronavirus Crisis?

Seven states have ordered gun shops to close during the coronavirus crisis, arguing that firearms do not constitute essential goods. On the contrary, seventeen other states have allowed gun shops to continue operating on the premise that they are part of the life-sustaining commodities. Even Democratic governors such as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Illinois J.B Pritzker have allowed the sale of firearms during the crisis. Other states, such as California, have left the decision to the localities and the law enforcement to decide.

Counties in Northern California, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Marin, have banned the sale of firearms. Los Angeles County Sheriff ordered the firearm shops closed but later reversed the decision. He, however, reverted to the ban when governor Newsom allowed sheriffs to make the call. Only the police and security agents can buy firearms and ammunition in the Los Angeles county.

Some states, such as New Jersey, have gone a step further in restricting the sale of firearms by shutting down the background checks systems. Other states, such as Delaware, have bans in place, although firearm sellers continue to conduct business as long as the background checks system is running. According to The Trace, "In states that have ordered gun stores to close, enforcement of the orders is already proving messy and litigious."

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Pennsylvania initially banned gun shops from operating but changed the decision after justices advised Gov. Wolf to reopen the shops despite upholding the ban. Gun rights groups insist that firearms are essential goods during the crisis.

Mark Oliva of the National Shooting Sports Foundation said that "People want to exercise their God-given right to bear arms and protect their families."

There has also been a sharp rise in the demand for firearms, currently standing at 300% across the country, from NSSF data collected from background checks. According to Oliva, people want to guarantee the safety of their families.

"When people aren't able to provide for their own security or their own safety, they're going to take measures to make sure that they can. That's why we have that Second Amendment," Oliva said. "This is a public safety issue."

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pushing universal background checks in our state, and if left unchecked, it will not be long until we see bills like this getting traction in Austin. Texas is embarrassingly ranked 29th for gun rights, and with the help of the political elites in Austin, we will surely rank among New York, California, and Illinois if left to their own devices. Please join our fight today, and help us restore Texas' place as the standard for the U.S.

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