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Brady Affirms Constitutionality of Designating Gun Stores ‘Non Essential;’ Reiterates Need for Proper Authority and Process for Local and State Governments

Washington, D.C., March 29, 2020 - Given continued discussion over emergency orders from state and local governments, Brady affirms the constitutionality of designating gun stores as ‘non-essential.'

Brady President Kris Brown explained:

“State and local governments are taking prudent steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, including temporarily closing many businesses that are deemed ‘non-essential.’ Lawsuits and charged rhetoric calling the closure of gun stores ‘unconstitutional’ are simply wrong. These claims are baseless and this concerted effort undermines good faith and needed measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

These are temporary measures and there is no constitutional right to immediately purchase a firearm, and there is certainly no right to potentially spread a lethal virus by shopping for a gun. Decades of settled precedent concerning common-sense measures like background checks and waiting periods affirms this. All rights are balanced against public safety considerations. The Second Amendment is no different. We can no more yell fire in a crowded theatre than congregate in mass numbers during a fast-spreading pandemic. When state and local governments assess that it is in the best interest of public health and safety to temporarily close these businesses, they are well within their rights to do so.

States have clearly made these decisions based upon safety considerations, with many states deeming gun stores as non-essential and still many others deeming them essential. Barring federal action, this is as it should be, where every state and local government makes the best decision for their citizens. We have seen states and local governments adopt novel measures based upon their unique circumstances, ranging from state-wide temporary closures, to designating all gun stores essential, to scheduled appointments.

While we know that adding guns to a situation creates increased risks and we urge all gun owners to adhere to best gun storage practices and gun dealers to ensure they are instituting measures to prevent access of firearms to people who should not have them, Brady affirms the right of state and local governments to make these decisions based upon the best available public health advice and considerations. This includes designating these stores as non-essential.”

The United States now has more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus than any other country in the world. In the face of this unprecedented national public health crisis and global pandemic, Americans must band together to flatten the curve, stop the spread, and support each other.

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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.


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