Washington, D.C., May 14, 2020 - Today, The Trace and USA Today reported that numerous gun stores across five states remained open during the coronavirus pandemic despite state orders requiring that they close during this time.
Brady Vice President of Policy Christian Heyne shared:
“Right now, non-essential businesses are being asked to close because of risks to public safety associated with their continued operation. Lives are at stake. That gun stores would defy orders from their duly elected leaders during a global pandemic flies in the face of a gun dealer’s core responsibility -- to ensure the safety of their customers and communities. While the gun industry and gun lobby groups such as the National Sports Shooting Foundation and National Rifle Association have continued to push a desire for short-term profits over public safety, it is deeply disturbing and disappointing that many dealers, who understand their role in protecting the public, have refused to halt sales.
Gun dealers are in many ways the first line of defense of gun safety laws and protocols. Dealers ensure that individuals seeking to purchase a firearm do pass a background check, that they are not purchasing a weapon for someone else and that they are making their purchase for reasonable purposes and responsibly. They help to ensure that weapons do not fall into hands of those that should not have them and that individuals who may be in crisis do not purchase a gun that results in harm to themselves or others.
Governors and local authorities are well within their rights to temporarily close stores to stop the spread of coronavirus. These orders do not infringe upon any individual’s Second Amendment right. It is essential to acknowledge that it is an incredibly uncertain and difficult time for all businesses right now and gun dealers are no exception. However, when local and state authorities have acted to stop the spread of a deadly virus, defying those orders is reckless and irresponsible. That action threatens the health of their customers and communities.”
Reporters from The Trace and USA Today contacted gun stores in the states that included gun dealers in emergency “shut down” orders, Michigan, Washington, New Mexico, New York, and Massachusetts. Reporters found that:
- In Michigan, 15 out of 20 stores contacted were open in some capacity;
- In Washington, 10 dealers in Washington state, all of the businesses contacted, were open;
- In New Mexico, 90 percent of dealers contacted, nine out of 10, were open;
- In New York, four of the 10 stores contacted were open; and
- In Massachusetts, only one out of the 20 stores contacted was open, though three stores declined to answer.
These actions come as states across the country have acted to close private businesses and public spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus. Multiple states across the country included gun stores in that list. Brady has consistently maintained that state and local governments are well within their rights to temporarily close gun stores under these emergency orders.
Brady believes that responsible gun stores have a fundamental role to play in appropriate screening of customers and ensuring they are on the front line of ensuring that gun sales are lawful and customers are educated not only about the guns they are purchasing, but also about the critical importance of safe storage so that family fire does not occur in their home. We are disappointed that certain retailers are not only operating in defiance of a state law closure order, but also operating in a manner that is inconsistent with the public health recommendations about which businesses should stay open during this time. Gun sales should not be rushed and should be done in all manners consistent with the law, and when state orders shuttering all non-essential businesses are made, gun stores subject to such orders should comply with them just like all other businesses must to protect public health and safety.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.