A lot of states closed gun stores, citing COVID-19 concerns. It was nothing of the sort, but that’s what most of them said. They simply used COVID-19 as a pretext to do something they wanted to do all along and couldn’t.
However, most of them also found out that they really couldn’t get away with it even with the virus going around. As a result, the vast majority backed off and reopened the stores. That includes vehement anti-gunners like Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Ned Lamont of Connecticut.
Now, the governor of Maine has joined their ranks.
Gun shops will be allowed to reopen in Maine after the administration of Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday included them on an updated list of businesses that will be allowed to operate despite a new stay-at-home order aimed at fighting the coronavirus.
It came as the Democratic governor used her emergency powers to put Maine among a majority of states that have issued a stay-at-home order aimed at stopping the spread of the virus. Last week, she ordered the closure of public-facing businesses that were deemed nonessential.
That earlier order relied on guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that outlines “the critical infrastructure workforce” — including first responders and health care, grocery, pharmacy and utility workers. All of those types of business have stayed open in Maine.
Gun shops were not on that federal list until Saturday, when the administration of President Donald Trump updated its list amid advocacy from gun-rights groups. The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development changed its list to include them on Tuesday.
It seems that while the federal declaration didn’t mandate gun stores remaining open, it may have had something of the desired effect. That’s good. Maybe.
The move, however, is especially good since we don’t really know what’s coming next as we brace for still more deaths from the coronavirus as well as a potentially devastating economic downturn. There’s a lot to be concerned about.
Mills move, however, is interesting, though.
As a Democrat, it seems unlikely that she turned to President Trump for leadership at this time. Partisan politics hasn’t exactly proven to be a COVID-19 casualty so far, after all.
So why reopen the gun stores following the move by Trump’s Department of Homeland Security?
The answer is simple. She already wanted to but needed an excuse. She needed something she could point to and say, “Hey, I was just following their lead.” In this case, President Trump. With the Department of Homeland Security’s announcement last week, it provided Mills with all the cover she needed. She can now deflect anti-gun criticism by saying she was simply doing as DHS suggested.
That’s important for some lawmakers, to be sure. Especially if they’re not sure the seas are really changing in their neck of the woods. Mills is likely in that boat.
Regardless of why she did it, though, it’s a big win for would-be gun owners in Maine. They can now go and buy their firearms, as they should have been able to all along.