The National Rifle Association, in conjunction with the Second Amendment Foundation, California Gun Rights Coalition, and Firearms Policy Conference, sued Governor Gavin Newsom and other state officials on Friday over the closing of gun stores in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
During Governor Newsom’s statewide lockdown announcement earlier this month, he had clarified what are and are not essential businesses. While places such as grocery stores, gas stations, and cannabis businesses were marked as “essential,” gun stores were not conclusively named.
On Thursday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that gun stores were not considered essential under Newsom’s order, with many other areas in California quickly following suit. In response to the lost business, the need for personal safety, and the violation of the second amendment, the NRA and other groups subsequently filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in response.
“The circumstances posed by the [COVID-19] outbreak are noteworthy, but do not excuse unlawful government infringements upon freedom,” notes the lawsuit.
“In fact, the importance of maintaining the ongoing activities of essential businesses for the safety, health, and welfare of Californians makes Plaintiffs’ point: the need for enhanced safety during uncertain times is precisely when Plaintiffs and their members must be able to exercise their fundamental rights to keep and bear arms.”
The NRA also released a statement over their decision to sue.
“Municipalities who target lawful gun stores for closure aren’t promoting safety. By weaponizing their politics to disarm you and your loved ones, these shameless partisans are recklessly promoting a gun-control agenda that suffocates your self-defense rights when you need them most,” said executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action Jason Ouimet in a statement.
“NRA members recognize these unlawful power-grabs for what they are, and the National Rifle Association is proud to stand and fight alongside fellow Second Amendment groups who recognize it as well.”
Besides Newsom and Villanueva, other defendants being sued include Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer and California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell. Many of the defendants have said that guns are not essential during this time, with gun control groups saying it was motivated more by profits. They also noted that these measures are in place to help curb coronavirus infections.
“In this time when we all need to sacrifice to flatten the curve and stop this pandemic, it is disturbing that the NRA won’t budge from its overriding purpose: To increase gun industry profits at any cost,” explained Brady United Against Gun Violence President Kris Brown in a statement. “There is no constitutional right to spread coronavirus while shopping, for guns or anything else.”
The lawsuit was filed in the United State District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, and is expected to be heard soon.
UPDATE: The Department of Homeland Security released updated guidelines naming gun manufacturers and retailers as essential on Saturday, which means they are to stay open and operational nationwide during a Chinese coronavirus shutdown, Breitbart reported.
The DHS guidelines list as essential:
- Workers supporting the manufacturing of safety equipment and uniforms for law enforcement, public safety personnel, and first responders.
- Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.