Gun Store Fight To Stay Open A Nationwide Battle

As fears over COVID-19 continues to spread as fast or faster than the disease itself, many governments are looking to shut down various businesses in what they describe as an effort to contain the infection. One group of businesses is determined to fight to remain open.

Those would be the gun stores, of course.

We’ve covered many examples of gun stores taking on that battle, with some fairly surprising victories.

However, our coverage has mostly focused on specific examples. The truth is, this isn’t a localized fight.

The firearms industry is lobbying state and federal officials to have gun stores be categorized as essential businesses that are allowed to remain open during the nationwide shutdowns meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Business has boomed for the industry in the past week, with long lines stretching outside gun stores across the country. On March 16, background checks were up 300% compared with the same day last year, according to federal data shared with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry association. The total number of checks since Feb. 23 is twice as high as in the same period in 2019.

The rush for guns is colliding with orders from state and local governments to close up shop. Several states that issued shutdown orders, including California, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, didn’t include gun stores among the essential businesses that can stay open, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations.

Point of order? Pennsylvania changed its tune yesterday, declaring gun stores as essential.

Moving on, though…

The NSSF last week began to press the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, governors and local officials to classify gun and ammunition dealers and manufacturers as essential businesses that must remain open, said Lawrence Keane, the organization’s senior vice president for government and public affairs.

“This is exactly when the Second Amendment right is most important, because people are concerned about the safety of their families, their property and their businesses,” said Mr. Keane.

The truth of the matter is that gun stores are essential, especially as we face even more troubles coming down the road. While the virus is bad enough, the treatment is also doing a number on the economy. I’m not interested in debating whether the treatment–shutting down businesses temporarily, shelter-in-place orders, closing schools, etc–is the right call or not. I am saying, though, that doing such a thing has a profound impact on our economic system.

Because of that, we can probably expect crime to rise, even under the best of circumstances. People are going to need guns to defend themselves, despite what some idiots seem to think. That makes gun stores essential businesses that should be exempt from lockdown orders like what many of us are currently living under.

Further, due to state laws in many places, people simply can’t buy firearms lawfully without a gun store open. Someone has to carry out transfers in universal background states. Since the right to keep and bear arms is an essential civil liberty, this fight matters.

What’s more, though, we’re seeing this fight resulting in more wins than I expected. That’s a good sign going foward.