April 13, 2020
As we reported in our 3/23/20 newsletter, the NSSF lobbied the White House and the Department of Homeland Security to change its designation of firearms retailers from “non-essential” to “essential.” Although the NSSF was successful, the Department of Homeland Security’s decision effectively gave states the option to close down firearms retailers: “[t]his list [of essential businesses] is intended to help State, local, tribal and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. Decisions informed by this list should also take into consideration additional public health considerations based on the specific COVID-19-related concerns of particular jurisdictions. This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard.”
Given this leeway, some states, including New York and California, opted to designate firearms retailers “non-essential,” shutting them down. While the pandemic resulted in an increased demand for firearms, there is no supply in states that have designated firearms retailers “non-essential.” In response to this Second Amendment threat, the NRA sued New York State demanding that firearms retailers be deemed “essential.” This followed similar suits brought by the NRA in California. The NRA and NSSF’s fight for the right to bear arms, especially during the pandemic is likely to continue in other states that have denied access to firearms. In Massachusetts, firearms retailers and consumers took matters into their own hands and sued Gov. Charlie Baker over his shutdown of firearms sales, leaving no recourse for locals to buy guns. The lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts also names state public health and criminal justice officials as well as local chiefs of police for enforcing the order on April 2, precluding customers from obtaining the guns they purchased days earlier.
Renzulli Law Firm will continue to follow this developing issue and the resulting cases. The ultimate issue to be decided is whether the states’ “non-essential” designation of firearms retailers infringes upon Second Amendment rights.