NRA Sues States Over Gun Store Closures Amid CCP Virus Outbreak

April 3, 2020 Updated: April 3, 2020

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has sued the governors of New York and California for deeming gun stores as “non-essential” and requiring them to close as part of state measures to control the spread of the CCP virus.

The gun rights association filed its latest lawsuit against New York on Thursday alleging that its governor Andrew Cuomo’s order to suspend the operations of gun stores by not designating them as “essential businesses” is in violation of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

New York has become the epicenter for the outbreak in the United States, with over 2,900 deaths and 102,000 cases across the state, according to Cuomo during a news conference on Friday.

Cuomo’s order, signed on March 20, requires all non-essential businesses to close through April 19. Businesses or services deemed “essential” such as grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and laundromats are not subject to the order. Any businesses not in compliance with the order would face fines.

The complaint (pdf) calls the order a “pointless and arbitrary attack on the constitutional rights of New York citizens and residents.” The lawsuit states that firearms are essential to public safety and security “especially during a time when many New Yorkers have valid concerns about the ability of the government to maintain order—and criminals are being prematurely released from jails.”

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Andrea Schry (R) fills out the buyer part of legal forms to buy a handgun as shop worker Missy Morosky fills out the vendors parts after Dukes Sport Shop reopened in New Castle, Pennsylvania, on March 25, 2020. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)
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People wait to check in for their appointment to enter Martin B. Retting gun shop in Culver City, California March 24, 2020. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

It also cited a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidance that lists workers of firearm manufacturers and retailers as critical infrastructure to justify its claims.

Following the DHS guidance, New Jersey reversed its earlier position that deemed gun stores non-essential in order to comply with the federal government’s advice.

“In accordance with the guidance released over the weekend by the federal Department of Homeland Security, we will allow firearms retailers to operate by appointment only and during limited hours to conduct business which, under law, must be done in person,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said during a media briefing on Monday.

Wayne LaPierre, NRA CEO and executive vice president, said that the lawsuit aims to protect the Second Amendment freedoms for New Yorkers.

“There isn’t a single person who has ever used a gun for self-defense who would consider it nonessential,” Wayne LaPierre, NRA CEO & Executive Vice President, said in a statement.

The New York suit follows a similar suit (pdf) filed by the NRA and several pro-gun groups in California last week against its governor, Gavin Newsom, who also deemed gun stores non-essential in a stay-at-home order.

The New York Attorney General office said in a statement on April 2 that “everyone—including the NRA—must follow the law and all executive orders of New York. We will aggressively defend the state against yet another legal assault by the NRA.”

The New York governor’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The article was updated to include a statement from the New York Attorney General office on April 3.

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