Plenty of Americans visited their local gun shops this weekend, loading up on ammunition and firearms as the fear and uncertainty over the social and economic impacts of the coronavirus take hold. We have no idea how many of the gun buyers this past weekend purchased their first firearm, but the odds are good that we have a lot of new gun owners across the country today.
Those new gun owners hoping to take the next step and acquire their concealed carry license are likely in for a little bit of a wait, however. In Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, for example, the sheriff is shutting down the gun licensing office for the next two weeks.
— MEGHAN SCHILLER (@MeghanKDKA) March 16, 2020
According to KDKA, about eighty licenses were issued Monday before the office closed for two weeks.
Meanwhile, other law enforcement agencies are putting a halt to firearm training courses that are offered on a regular basis. In Georgia, the Henry County sheriff announced a series of temporary changes to the department.
Henry County Sheriff Keith McBrayer says the Sheriff’s Department will cancel inmate visitation, postpone classes and cut back on other services until further notice due to the COVID-19 emergency.
“The Sheriff’s Office will be postponing our Church Security and Safety Class scheduled for this Thursday, March 19, 2020,” McBrayer wrote. “We are going to follow suit as suggested by the CDC and try to make sure that we do not encourage events with large crowds.”Other services suspended or delayed for now at HCSO include:
• No fingerprinting or criminal history requests for the general public
• All Citizen Firearms classes and open range dates suspended until further notice
“I encourage you to make smart decisions as to how you conduct your day-to-day decisions for your family,” McBrayer said. “With everyone’s help, we will hopefully all be back to our normal lives soon.”
We’ll see how soon it is, but for now we’re in the abnormal, and the next couple of weeks will be critical to lowering the infection rate over the entire course of the infection of the coronavirus, as Vice President Mike Pence said during a press conference on Monday afternoon.
As more closures of non-essential businesses are announced, expect the surge in ammunition and firearms sales to continue. And if gun stores are ordered to close, I would expect a lawsuit to be filed, even with courts operating under declarations of emergencies in many locations. The argument would be that the right of self-defense is essential, and to deprive someone of the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense during a state of emergency is a violation of their Constitutional rights. We’ll be talking more about these murky legal waters we’re now wading into on tomorrow’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, when the Heritage Foundation’s Amy Swearer will join me to discuss the issue.