The Second Amendment Is Alive And (Mostly) Well Amidst Coronavirus Chaos

We’ve been focused quite a bit here at Bearing Arms on the small number of states that have chosen to deny Americans their right to acquire a firearm during the current state of emergency, but on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we take a look at the flip side of that story; the large number of Americans who are choosing to exercise their right to keep and bear arms, the gun stores in some states like Washington and New York that have refused to close their doors despite being declared non-essential, and the large number of states that actually have recognized the essential nature of the Second Amendment at this moment in time.

In North Carolina, for instance, pistol purchase permit applications in the Raleigh-Durham area have shot up by about 300% compared to March of 2019. And unlike nearby Wake County, which temporarily stopped accepting pistol purchase permits until Sheriff Gerald Baker was sued by a coalition of Second Amendment organizations, most counties in the Raleigh-Durham area never stopped taking applications for pistol purchase permits, though concealed carry applications are another story.

So far in Forsyth County, the increase in demand has not been an issue. Applications in March for concealed carry permits — a more detailed process requiring fingerprinting — decreased from the same time period in 2019, from 541 last year to 391 this year.

Part of the reason for the decrease may be that Forsyth County stopped fingerprinting March 19 and, as such, is not processing new concealed carry permit applications.

Sheriff’s officials made the decision reluctantly out of concern for deputies’ health during the coronavirus pandemic. Taking fingerprints requires close person to person contact. It can’t be done wearing gloves.

“To be clear, we are not interfering with any Second Amendment rights; we are still issuing purchase permits, concealed permit renewals, and of course people may open carry,” wrote Christina Howell, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, in an email. “We are simply trying to protect the health of the public during this pandemic by suspending fingerprinting services.”

My non-lawyer legal take is that as long as you can carry in some form or fashion, it’s going to be tough to show that your Second Amendment rights have actually been infringed upon. The Supreme Court hasn’t weighed in on a case dealing with the right to carry, though there are several cases currently in conference that the Court could take up in a matter of months. Until then, most lower courts are probably going to give a lot of deference to public safety officials when it comes to protecting their staff from exposure to the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, it’s tough in many cases to apply for concealed carry licenses even if sheriffs’ offices are open, because gun ranges may not be, making it difficult or impossible to get the required training. The Virginia Citizens Defense League is asking Gov. Ralph Northam to allow indoor ranges to re-open, after the governor declared them to be non-essential “indoor entertainment” venues.

“The governor’s view of ranges is that they are for entertainment, or that has been what he has classified them as,” VCDL President Philip Van Cleave said. “Ranges are where people get to practice lifesaving skills, and there are so many new gun owners now that have realized that their safety is in their own hands.”

Yes, going to the range to shoot is fun, but it’s also practical. If indoor ranges can adopt the same social distancing tactics required by other businesses in the state, the governor should let them. Van Cleave is right about the large number of new gun owners in Virginia, and while the Second Amendment community has done a good job of making a lot of information available online for those new gun owners, it would be better for them if they could get to a range for a little hands-on instruction. Northam being Northam, however, I suspect this will end up in court before it’s all said and done.

Also on today’s program we’ve got the story of a 23-year old convicted felon now facing attempted murder charges when we should have been behind bars, an armed citizen in Spokane County, Washington, two school resource officers in Goshen, Ohio who are doing their best to stay connected with students while schools are shut down.

Thanks as always for watching, listening, and spreading the word!