All around the nation, gun shops are open when many other businesses are closed. The reason is simple. People have a constitutionally-protected right to protect themselves and gun shops are the place to go to get the tools for that purpose.
However, a Colorado knife store owner has decided that he’ll reopen for pretty much the same reason.
Sedalia knife shop owner Hal Van Herke on Tuesday posted a Declaration of Business Independence on Facebook saying he would reopen CastleGate Knife and Tool Tuesday in defiance of Governor Polis’ stay-at-home order.
Van Herke acknowledges the risks of defying the Governor’s order, but believes he has justification for doing so, including the Second Amendment. Governor Polis excluded firearms retailers from the shutdown order, defining firearms manufacturing and sales as essential.
Van Herke points out that the Second Amendment protects all “arms” not just firearms, and believes this means edged weapons as well.
“We believe that we are an essential business,” Van Herke said. “We believe that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms and that includes not only firearms but also knives and other means of self defense.”
Van Herke isn’t wrong. The term “arms” doesn’t just include firearms but pretty much any weapon. The Supreme Court has determined that to be the case time and time again, so he’s not wrong to argue that his business falls under the Second Amendment protects that keep gun stores open.
To be sure, Van Herke isn’t oblivious to the risks of COVID-19. either. In his proclamation, Van Herke said:
“What we’re going to be doing is have our staff wearing masks. We’re going to ask our customers to wear masks. If they don’t have a mask we’re going to have masks available they can purchase at a reasonable price. We’re also asking them to use hand sanitizer before they enter the store and then when they leave,” said Van Herke. “We feel along with controlling the number of people in the store and social distancing that should provide an adequate guard against transmission of the virus.”
In other words, he feels he can mitigate the risk while getting back to business. There’s nothing wrong with that either.
The truth is, while gun stores should have remained open, guns aren’t the only weapons that can be used for self-defense. After all, I’m rarely without a pocket knife, even in many places I can’t carry a firearm. While it’s less than ideal, it’s better than nothing.
A lot of people carry a knife for protection when they can’t carry a gun for pretty much the same reason. As such, knife stores fill a similar niche to gun stores. Van Herke’s point is valid and he should be permitted to reopen.
The question is whether law enforcement in Colorado will agree with him or not. If they don’t, it’s my hope that some of the Second Amendment groups come to his defense and take the issue to court. Some people are being deprived of their ability to defend themselves because they can’t get the tools they’re permitted under current law.
That needs to change.