Confusion Reigns Over Gun Store Shutdown Orders

H/T Bearing Arms.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has joined New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in ordered his state’s gun stores to close, declaring them non-essential businesses that must shut down temporarily during the state’s declared emergency.

At MyNorthwest.com, Seattle talk show host Jason Rantz says the governor’s move is a major mistake.

During his address, Inslee noted that the media would remain open during the shutdown. Of course, we provide necessary information to inform the public about the coronavirus pandemic. But our speech is also constitutionally protected and there should be a high bar before taking a move that could silence us.

That principle should apply to gun shop owners. Qualified customers who don’t currently own a gun can’t go to a gun shop for the next two weeks to legally purchase one and enjoy their rights as a citizen. That is a problem.

The governor’s office noted in an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that these closures are temporary and that goods can still be purchased online. This is an important note as the gun restrictions aren’t across the board.

And, obviously, if you own a gun already, you face no restrictions beyond future purchases and transfers. But keep in mind, Seattle Public Schools, prior to the closures, refused to offer digital classes out of equity concerns: Not everyone has internet or a laptop. A digital-only option would keep kids from their right to an education.

Well, not everyone in the market for a gun has internet or a laptop, either.

To be fair to the governor, I don’t think this is nefarious in its intent. I simply think the unique purpose gun shops serve isn’t being considered. If there were a more pro-gun governor, perhaps we would have a different classification.

Perhaps. While every governor who has ordered gun stores to close is a Democrat, not every Democratic governor has ordered gun stores to close. Connecticut’s Ned Lamont, Illinois’ J.B. Pritzker, and Kentucky’s Andy Beshear have all mandated that gun stores should remain open, and on Tuesday afternoon Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf revised his orders to specify that gun stores can remain in operation as long as they follow specific guidelines on social distancing.

That announcement came Tuesday afternoon, hours after local law enforcement in East Earl, Pennsylvania visited The Sportsman’s Shop and ordered them to close. Jessica Keffer, the store’s marketing manager, revealed the news to customers in a post to the store’s Facebook page.

Jessica was able to join me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to reveal the good news that the store is officially back in operation, and says State Rep. Dan Zimmerman reached out to the East Earl police to let them know that the shop is allowed to operate under the governor’s emergency declaration.

Keffer says the conditions imposed by the governor aren’t ideal, but at least they can continue to serve their customer base via appointments. The store is still receiving shipments of firearms and ammunition, though not as much as need, but Keffer says that’s the situation for virtually every gun store in the country right now that is open for business.

In Los Angeles, meanwhile, Sheriff Alex Villanueva caused massive amounts of confusion, and probably increased panic as well, when he declared on Tuesday that he would be sending deputies out to gun stores in the county and telling them to lock up and shut down, citing any who remained open. Then, Tuesday evening, Los Angeles County Counsel Mary Wickham released an opinion stating that firearms retailers were in fact essential and did not have to close. Late Tuesday evening, Villanueva backed off his order and stated that he would no longer attempt to shutter the stores, unless or until Gov. Gavin Newsom specifically states that gun stores are considered non-essential businesses.

Townhall’s Julio Rosas is riding out the pandemic in Los Angeles, and he also joins me on today’s show to talk about Sheriff Villanueva’s order and the confusion that resulted.

My advice to any of these anti-gun politicians who believe that a state of emergency is the perfect time to enact sweeping restrictions denying people the ability to legally acquire firearms for self-defense: don’t do it. You’ll be sued, but even if you find judges willing to uphold your unconstitutional power grab, you will pay a political price for preventing law-abiding residents from exercising their rights as American citizens to protect themselves and their loved ones during this perilous time.

As we point out in today’s armed citizen story, police may need to depend on armed citizens in the short-term, just as citizens may find their departments understaffed and perhaps overwhelmed as the coronavirus peaks and shut down orders persist. No one that I know is calling for more crime or civil unrest, but that doesn’t mean that either of those things are unthinkable when we try to look even a few weeks into the future. It is entirely reasonable for Washington residents to want a firearm for their protection at the moment, and it’s completely unconscionable for Gov. Inslee to try to deny them of their right to acquire one legally.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Townhall Media on YouTube or the Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co podcast on Apple Podcasts, and thanks as always for watching, listening, and spreading the word. Tune in tomorrow when we’ll be speaking with Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation about several lawsuits the organization is involved in challenging the closure of gun stores.