Gun control advocates don’t like the fact that most gun stores across the country remain open for business at the moment, and they absolutely hate the fact that millions of Americans are interested in purchasing a gun for the very first time. As a result, they’re lashing out at Second Amendment supporters and the stores themselves, but their arguments and insults don’t seem to be doing anything to dissuade folks from purchasing a firearm for self-defense.
Anti-gun activists are desperately engaged in an effort to prevent anyone from buying a firearm at the moment, and some of their arguments are downright silly. Take this line of attack from a gun control advocate in Maine, for example, who claims that Gov. Janet Mills did the right thing in originally demanding the closure of gun stores.
I can see no connection between deeming gun shops non-essential, and the Second Amendment. Gun shops should be closed now, because folks tend to gather there to talk shop, share stories and shoot the breeze in a community environment, exactly what we are not supposed to be doing now.
That might be true in normal circumstances, but I’m pretty sure that most customers are simply trying to get in and out of the store as quickly as they can, and it’s not like gun store owners or employees have a lot of free time at the moment to sit around and shoot the breeze or debate the finer points of the never-ending “Glock or not” debate.
Thankfully, Gov. Mills revised her original emergency order and now firearms retailers are included in the state’s list of “essential businesses.
In Oregon, gun stores are also open, but that hasn’t stopped gun control supporters from sounding off about the decision. The Willamette Weekly newspaper published a number of comments both in favor and opposed to Gov. Kate Brown’s declaration that gun shops are among the state’s essential businesses, but this one is probably my favorite.
“There’s nothing in the Constitution that says you have the right to sell guns. So, Gov. Brown should be able to just say: You have the right to have guns—but how you get them is not the state’s problem. Right?”
Wrong. The state of Oregon has already decided that how people acquire firearms is the state’s problem. Back in 2015 the state passed a universal background check law that prevents most private gun sales from taking place without a background check, and since those background checks have to be done at gun shops, shutting them down would mean it would be nearly impossible for Oregonians to legally acquire a firearm for self-defense as long as there’s a state of emergency in place.
Additionally, at least one federal judge has ruled that the right to acquire a firearm is an inherent part of the right to keep and bear arms. Back in 2014 U.S. District Judge Edward Chang determined that Chicago’s ban on gun stores in the city was unconstitutional. Rather than appeal that decision, the city decided to rewrite its laws so that gun stores could theoretically open for business inside the city limits. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court never had the chance to weigh in on the case, but Judge Chang made it clear that if you have the right to keep and bear arms, you must also have the right to acquire arms.
Perhaps the simplest argument against allowing gun stores to remain open was put forth by Durham, North Carolina mayor Steve Schewel, who basically said gun stores weren’t essential because reasons.
“Every retailer is under the exact same restraints,” he said. “The book stores, the flower stores and the gun stores.”
Retailers like Walmart sell many items that compete with various businesses, but they also sell food which is an essential service, Schewel said. If officers need supplies, they can get them from the agencies they work for, he said.
As it turns out, Schewel reversed course a few days later after Gun Owners of America and Grassroots NC threatened to sue over the mayor’s order, though he didn’t sound happy about it.
“Our lawyers said we couldn’t win,” Schewel told the INDY on Tuesday. “And not only that they were gonna win, but that we were gonna have to pay their legal fees. And so that’s why we made the decision—which is, you know, awful. Gun stores are not essential. In fact, they are damaging. It’s terrible to be forced into this position.”
Cry more, Mr. Mayor. The fact is that you were going to lose because you’re wrong about the essential nature of our right of self-defense and our right to keep and bear arms.
While Schewel’s argument may have been the weakest of all, it’s probably the closest to the actual reason why anti-gun activists are so intent on shutting down gun shops. “Because I said so,” isn’t a great legal argument, but it’s the standard position of would-be authoritarians intent on exercising their power in order to prevent people from exercising their rights.