Gun Stores Must Be Allowed to Remain Open During COVID-19 Crisis

This month, The Washington Post published a poll seeking people’s opinions on the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the reopening of businesses.

What’s making waves is that 70% of those contacted believed that gun stores should not be allowed to open. This is in the wake of victories across the United States by Second Amendment advocacy organizations in reopening gun stores that were closed by various cities and states.

It shouldn’t be shocking that those taking the poll didn’t want gun stores to open—82% didn’t want movie theaters to open, 78% didn’t want gyms to open, 74% didn’t want either dine-in restaurants or nail salons to reopen, and 69% didn’t want barbershops or hair salons to reopen.

This poll doesn’t tell the full story.

There were a record number of federal background checks for firearms in April

Here’s what the poll doesn’t tell you: April 2020 was the best April on record for federal background checks. There were over 2.8 million federal background checks. March 2020 saw over 3.7 million. And those numbers don’t include private sales in many states.

Americans have overwhelmingly shown, with their actions, that they want gun stores to remain open. If some people don’t want to visit reopened business, that is certainly their choice. But what is clear is that the Washington Post poll does not speak for the record number of people who want to—and are—purchasing firearms at this time. 

A lot of states racing to contain COVID 19 exempted gun stores from their shutdown orders. In New Mexico, that wasn’t the case. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham refused to make such an exemption.

As an attorney with Mountain States Legal Foundation, I currently represent multiple New Mexican citizens and firearm retailers in a lawsuit to reverse the shutdown order. The NRA, Firearms Policy Coalition, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association are also involved in the effort. 

After our lawsuit was filed, Gov. Grisham allowed gun stores in the state to reopen on May 1. However, as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, some experts are predicting more lockdowns over the summer and fall. MSLF remains ready to spring into action if New Mexico attempts to re-shutter those firearm retailers and ranges. 

The record number of background checks conducted in the last two months shows that Americans consider the ability to protect themselves more essential, not less, in a time of crisis.  I can’t help but agree.

Cody J. Wisniewski (@TheWizardofLawz) is an attorney with Mountain States Legal Foundation. 

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Coronavirus Gun Store Shutdown

Even in an emergency, constitutionally-protected rights must be defended. New Mexico’s governor shut down the state’s firearms retailers as part of her emergency orders designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

VIDEO: New Mexico’s COVID-19 Gun Store Shutdown – a Briefing on Our Case

In this webinar, recorded April 23, 2020, Cristen Wohlgemuth, president of Mountain States Legal Foundation, and MSLF attorney Cody Wisniewski discuss the coronavirus-related gun store shutdown in New Mexico with MSLF client Zachary Fort. Mr. Fort is president of the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association. In the wake of our lawsuit, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham…

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