Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown For Gun Safety is pushing hard for governors across the country to order gun stores closed during the coronavirus pandemic, and the group’s president says it’s “shameful and nonsensical” for the federal government to classify the firearms industry as part of the critical workforce deemed essential under Department of Homeland Security guidelines.
In a new op/ed at CNN, John Feinblatt claims that allowing gun stores to remain open will only add to the burdens that hospitals are facing.
At least 4.6 million American children live in homes with unsecured guns, and many of those children are now confined to those homes, with lots of free time on their hands — and lots of new worries. Recently, a 13-year-old in New Mexico was killed when his cousin allegedly shot him with a gun that the cousin said he brought home to “protect” himself during the pandemic. In addition, parents — especially parents who own guns — should be aware that research has shown a link between social isolation and suicide in young people.
What Feinblatt doesn’t say about that tragic killing in New Mexico was that the 19-year old who shot his cousin actually pointed the weapon at the 13-year old and pulled the trigger. Twice.
[Patricio] Arroyo, who was shot in the torso and had no pulse, was pronounced dead at a hospital. Relatives told police they were all hanging out in the living room when [Anthony] Padilla walked out of a bedroom with a shotgun he had been storing there.
Arroyo’s brother told police Padilla “racked” a round into the chamber, pointed it at the teen and shot him. He said he thought Padilla was just “joking around” before the gun went off and all the relatives police spoke to believed it was an accident.
Padilla told police he had bought the gun months before at a gun shop and had been storing it at his aunt and uncle’s because his mother didn’t allow guns in the house. Padilla said he had shot the gun many times and would always make sure it was unloaded before storing it under his cousin’s bed.
Padilla told police he was taking the gun home for protection amid the COVID-19 scare. He said he pulled the trigger once and nothing happened, he then “racked” the gun and pulled the trigger 2 feet from Arroyo.
In other words, this wasn’t a case of coronavirus panic, but an egregious violation of the basic rules of gun safety. Padilla’s been arrested and is rightfully facing charges in the death of his cousin, but Feinblatt is spinning this case as an example of why all Americans should be deprived of their right to acquire a firearm for self-defense during the current state of emergency.
Of course Feinblatt and his merry band of gun banners don’t want Americans buying firearms in the best of circumstances, much less during an emergency, but there’s another benefit for gun control advocates if governors order gun stores closed: many of them won’t be able to re-open their doors once the pandemic has passed. A recent poll by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that a quarter of all small businesses are at risk of a permanent shutdown thanks to the impact of the coronavirus and the stay-at-home orders found in most states, and gun control advocates would be thrilled to see local gun shops shuttered forever as a result of temporary orders to close.
Feinblatt is rightfully concerned about an increase in suicides and domestic violence during the stay-at-home orders, but the answer isn’t to strip Americans of their constitutionally protected rights. Instead, we need to ensure that mental health resources are available for those who are struggling, we as individuals need to reach out to our friends and family to check in on those we care about, and as a society we need to make sure that vulnerable individuals can leave abusive situations, and protect themselves if they cannot.
We also need to ensure that gun stores and ranges remain open, albeit with social distancing measures in place, to ensure that those wanting to exercise their rights for the first time can do so, as well as enabling new gun owners to get some hands-on training with their firearm. Preventing law-abiding Americans from acquiring firearms and ammunition for self-defense won’t stop bad actors, but it will stop good people from defending themselves when necessary.