Washington, D.C., March 31, 2020 – In response to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s advisory guidance designating gun stores, shooting ranges and other portions of the gun industry as “essential critical infrastructure,” Brady has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain documents pertinent to the gun industry’s efforts to influence this decision.
Brady President Kris Brown explained:
“Americans have a right to know whether the Trump Administration is listening to Dr. Anthony Fauci or Wayne LaPierre when pushing to keep gun businesses open despite the risk of spreading coronavirus. The American people deserve answers as to whether our federal government has put industry interests and profits ahead of our public safety. By designating gun stores as “essential critical infrastructure,” just a day after the National Rifle Association (NRA) filed a lawsuit against California to re-open gun stores deemed “nonessential” by local officials, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may have put their thumb on the scale of decisions appropriately left to state and local officials. This guidance, though not a directive, could have a chilling effect on state and local officials seeking to implement the advice of their public health officials and can be weaponized in the U.S. court system in opposition to current emergency orders.
We demand answers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as to whether the gun industry’s influence led to this decision, and whether Dr. Fauci or other public health experts agreed with the decision. We are aware that the National Sports Shooting Foundation (NSSF) submitted an official letter to DHS asking for this guidance, while the NRA has vocally challenged the authority of state and local officials to implement emergency orders.
If those actions crossed the line from official requests and influenced decisions at the Department of Homeland Security, we need to know that. And, we’re going to find out.”
In an advisory memo on March 28, Christopher C. Krebs, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), advised that “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges” are “typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability” or “support crucial supply chains and enable functions for critical infrastructure.”
The memo is advisory in nature and underscores that individual jurisdictions may designate businesses as essential or non-essential based upon their discretion.
Brady has previously stated that state and local governments are well within their constitutional rights to designate gun stores as “nonessential” and order their temporary closure as part of efforts to combat coronavirus and opposed designating gun stores as essential critical infrastructure. Brady affirms that position and supports lawmakers that opt to temporary close these businesses on the advice of public health officials.
In this request Brady has specifically asked:
What led DHS and CISA to exempt gun businesses from general closures deemed necessary to prevent the spread of Coronavirus?
Any and all communications between CISA leadership and/or employees related to the sudden addition of gun dealers on the list of critical infrastructures during the coronavirus outbreak;
Any and all communications between CISA leaders and/or employees and employees and/or leadership of other federal agencies related to the sudden addition of the firearms and ammunition industry on the list of critical infrastructures during the coronavirus outbreak. This request specifically includes, but is not limited to, communications within the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the country’s National Infrastructure Protection Plan;
Any and all communications regarding how the decision to designate or not designate firearms businesses as critical infrastructure could affect President Donald Trump’s re-election efforts or politics;
All other documents, including drafts, related to the decision to designate the gun industry as a national critical infrastructure industry during the coronavirus outbreak; and
Any and all documents, communications, and materials analyzing whether firearms and ammunition industry business closings were unconstitutional;
What role did the NRA and the gun industry play in the decision to exempt gun businesses from general closures deemed necessary to prevent the spread of Coronavirus?
Any and all communications between CISA leadership and/or employees and non-government employees related to the critical infrastructures list and the firearms and ammunition industry. This request specifically includes any and all communications with representatives or employees of the gun industry or gun rights organizations, including but not limited to representatives from the following organizations and/or their affiliates: the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Gun Owners of America, Mark Barnes & Associates, and any firearms manufacturers, importers, distributors, or dealers;
Any and all communications between CISA leadership and/or employees and non-government employees related to the decision to include the firearms and ammunition industry in the critical infrastructures list with public health professionals and officials;
Any and all materials regarding the analysis that led CISA to designate guns and ammunition as a “National Critical Infrastructure Industry” during the coronavirus outbreak, specifically including, but not limited to, any and all analysis of public health effects of the decision;
Did public health experts agree that it was in the interest in public safety to keep gun businesses open?
Any and all communications with between CISA leadership and/or employees and Dr. Anthony Fauci and/or other public health experts regarding whether or not the gun industry should be included on the critical infrastructures list;
Any and all communications, documents, analyses, or reports regarding the extent to which conducting and not closing firearms industry businesses could or would spread the coronavirus, or increase the risks that the coronavirus would be spread, or have any other negative effects of public health;
Any and all communications, documents, analyses, or reports on any consideration CISA took of increased risks of shootings from panic firearms purchases (especially suicide, domestic violence and unintentional shootings), and any consideration of ways to minimize these risks (including warnings or trainings);
Were other businesses and industries treated similarly to the gun industry?
Any and all materials, documents, or guidelines explaining how the CISA selects businesses to include on its list of critical infrastructures during the coronavirus outbreak;
All communications between agents or representatives of any industry with CISA employees and non-government employees requesting that their industry be included on the critical infrastructures list.
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.