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Stay at Home and Stay Armed


On Sunday, March 23, Gov. Mike DeWine announced a stay-at-home executive order. His administration says the order is designed to halt the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus. The order was actually issued by Dr. Amy Acton, an unelected official who heads the Ohio Department of Health.

What You Need to Know

The Ohio Stay at Home Order is quite extensively detailed, and much of it appears to have been copied directly from the Illinois Stay at Home Order. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker instituted the order on Sunday, March 20.

When the Ohio order was issued, it created panic among residents, and the recently calmer grocery stores across the state re-erupted with panic-buying. This was mainly because the website where the directive was posted instantly crashed because of thousands of Ohioans desperately trying to access the document.

Fortunately, I was able to get a copy of the directive through a fellow law enforcement officer, and I quickly read through it. I spent a lot of time calling friends who thought that orders for martial law had been issued, that people would be subject to immediate arrest and that people couldn’t leave their homes for any reason. (No directives were given to law enforcement as to how we are to deal with this situation.)

As I read through the entire document, I realized that in the scheme of things, not much had changed. Retailers such as Hobby Lobby and other small and large Ohio businesses not deemed essential would be forced to close by Monday night, March 23.

The Hidden Gem

Every cloud has a silver lining, no matter how dark and ominous it may appear at first glance. The silver lining I found in the Ohio directive was awaiting discovery at the end of Section 12q. Section 12 lists all the “Essential Businesses and Operations” that are allowed to remain open during the stay-at-home period. Section “q” is the “Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations.”

At the very bottom of this rather long list — hidden among a myriad of day-to-day businesses such as hardware stores, computer- and IT-related stores, and others — was this: “firearm and ammunition suppliers and retailers for the purposes of security and safety.”

What This Means

This is an amazing declaration in the affirmative, especially since it originated in the not-so-gun-friendly state of Illinois. This means that gun shops are being acknowledged as important in maintaining societal order. This is not just a passing statement. It is now an official position of the governments of the states of Ohio and Illinois. This is a groundbreaking event. Amidst the loss of various other freedoms, the Second Amendment has been affirmed as a critical right delivered through our local retailers. It is one that is being overlooked because of all the other major concerns that citizens have at this point.

Don’t count on this silver lining in other states, counties and municipalities that choose to issue stay-at-home orders. Our neighboring state of Michigan issued its own orders today. I searched but could not find a provision protecting Second Amendment rights and labeling them as critical for protection. The Michigan order is much less detailed than the Ohio and Illinois orders … and more restrictive. Hopefully, if other states feel the need to issue such orders, they will follow the Illinois and Ohio models.

Rest assured that USCCA will continue to monitor the situation.

Check the NSSF list of states with stay-at-home orders.


About Scott W. Wagner

After working undercover in narcotics and liquor investigations, Scott W. Wagner settled down to be a criminal justice professor and police academy commander. He was also a SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader before his current position as patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. Scott is a police firearms instructor certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.

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