I had someone on Twitter tell me earlier today that Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear had ordered gun stores to close as part of his declaration that non-essential businesses must shut down. The tweet didn’t shock me, because we’ve seen other Democrat governors take similar steps in places like New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. However, I did some checking just to be sure, and as it turns out that tweet was wrong and gun and ammo sales will be allowed to continue.
Part of the confusion comes from the fact that Beshear’s order doesn’t list gun stores as either “essential” or “non-essential” businesses. As the Louisville Courier-Journal points out, however, the order does have some specific language dealing with firearms.
As state leaders limit or close access to a growing number of businesses in an aggressive attempt to contain the potentially deadly virus, some gun sellers in Louisville and the surrounding areas say their stores have been slammed in recent days with customers looking to stock up on weapons and ammo.
Beshear’s order doesn’t specifically list firearm or ammunition in either the “life-sustaining” or “not life-sustaining” retail businesses category.
However, it includes language that nothing in the order is meant to “interfere with the lawful sale of firearms and ammunition.”
Those businesses must follow social distancing and hygiene guidance from the CDC or they could face closure, according to the order.
That’s very good news, and it’s worth noting that while all of the states that have closed gun stores are run by Democrats, not every Democrat governor has followed the lead of Gavin Newsom, Tom Wolf, and Phil Murphy. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont have specifically designated stores selling firearms and ammunition as essential businesses, which has been a pleasant and welcome surprise.
In Kentucky, it not only makes good sense constitutionally to keep the stores open, but it’s a smart move politically for Beshear as well. There are a lot of new gun owners in the state, and if the governor were to close the gun stores and prevent Kentuckians from acquiring firearms in order to exercise their Second Amendment rights, it would destroy his political career. Beshear is the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Kentucky, and he narrowly defeated Matt Bevin last November while Republicans were making gains in the state legislature. It would be political suicide for Beshear to try to deprive residents of their right to keep and bear arms at this moment in time. I don’t know if that’s what led him to make the decision, but regardless of his reasons, it was the right move to make.