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Guns in the News: What Is Essential?


The Founding Fathers placed the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution near the front of the constitutional lineup for a reason. It is ahead of the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure and ahead of the Sixth, which says citizens have a right to a speedy and public trial, a right to an impartial jury, and a right to counsel. They put the Second Amendment near the front because these men had experienced tyranny, government by whim, taxation without representation and restrictions on the national trade for political reasons.

Your ability to purchase a firearm, to train with that firearm and to assemble with others who have similar beliefs is essential to the national welfare. Now, during the coronavirus outbreak, the Department of Homeland Security has issued federal guidelines declaring that gun shops are essential businesses.

State by State

Nevertheless, a horde of lawmakers are clawing the nation’s blackboards and screeching that stores selling guns and ammunition must be closed.

Maryland: A large group of Maryland Democratic lawmakers wants the state’s gun stores closed during the coronavirus outbreak. The group sent a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan (R), urging him to do so. “The letter is asking the governor to reconsider following the federal guidelines,” said Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, who is leading the effort.

California: Sheriff Alex Villaneuva (D) closed gun stores in Los Angeles County to everyone except police and licensed security company employees. This was after Gov. Gavin Newsom deemed that firearms sellers are nonessential businesses during California’s shutdown of commerce. Villaneuva’s move was — as is every move restricting individual liberty during a crisis — an effort to limit and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has “effectively and indefinitely suspended a key component of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution,” says the NRA, by forcing gun stores across the state to shutter their doors.

Virginia: Gov. Ralph Northam ordered all indoor shooting ranges to close, declaring them “nonessential.” Northam labeled indoor shooting ranges as “indoor public amusement” alongside movie theaters and bowling alleys. The same governor favors L.A. Sheriff Villaneuva’s release of prisoners because of the virus.

New Mexico: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has mandated the closure of gun stores during the “ongoing coronavirus pandemic.” She then tasked the New Mexico State Patrol to drive by gun stores and enforce her position.

Massachusetts: Flip-flopping back and forth, the latest from Massachusetts is that the state government believes its citizens are morons. “Gun shops and shooting ranges are not essential businesses during a public health emergency,” says Attorney General Maura Healey (D). “We cannot undermine the safety of our police officers, first responders and domestic violence victims.”

Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Wolf (D) initially ordered gun stores to close as nonessential businesses. His order was challenged in court. A divided state Supreme Court dismissed the legal challenge, but the governor has reluctantly allowed gun shops to reopen with protocols on social distancing.

There is some legislative good news, however. A pair of strong, pro-gun governors, South Dakota’s Kristi Noem (R) and Idaho’s Brad Little (R), have expanded gun rights in their states during the continuing panic.

About Rick Sapp

Rick Sapp earned his Ph.D. in social anthropology after his time in the U.S. Army working for the 66th Military Intelligence Group, USAREUR, during the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Following his time in Paris, France, he worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service before turning to journalism and freelance writing. Along with being published in several newspapers and magazines, Rick has authored more than 50 books for a variety of publishers.

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