Gun industry trade group pushes to keep gun stores open

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Hello, Bulletin readers. As local reports of increased gun sales continue, gun industry associations and legal groups are working to ensure gun stores continue to serve customers even when most other retail businesses are closed. Keep up to date with the latest developments in your midweek roundup.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

A gun industry trade group is pushing to keep gun stores open. The director of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) said The Wall Street Journal he had lobbied federal and state officials to allow gun stores to remain open despite stay-at-home orders that have shut down retailers across the country. Authorities already consider arms manufacturers with law enforcement or defense clients to be essential businesses; the NSSF lobbied for a designation of “critical infrastructure” for the entire firearms industry. We tracked which states have exempted gun stores from shutdown orders and which others have deemed them non-essential and ordered them to stop sales. But the situation remains fluid:

  • In California, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has begun closing gun stores one by one yesterday, but abandoned the effort less than 12 hours later after county attorney advised that they could stay open under the stay order state home.
  • In Pennsylvania, a lawsuit challenging the closure of gun stores was narrowly dismissed by the state’s Supreme Court. But the governor quietly allowed arms dealers to reopen for one-on-one appointments for limited hours.

A gun rights group is suing New Jersey for stopping gun sales. Yesterday Champe Barton reported on how Garden State officials linked the shutdown of gun dealers to shutting down the state’s background check system, making legal sales impossible during the hiatus. Now a gun rights group has filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the policy. A New Jersey arms dealer found a partial workaround: The governor’s close order allows for the ordering and delivery of goods online. So the federally licensed dealer transports ammunition (which in New Jersey, like most states, does not require its own background check) directly to customers, he told a blog on gun rights.

NEW FROM THE TRACK: A timeline of NRA scare tactics during national emergencies. The National Rifle Association’s new video, which uses the coronavirus pandemic to claim guns are essential to protecting Americans from the threat of public disorder, is part of its long-standing messaging manual.

Attorney General to Federal Officials: The pandemic will not stop the gun business. The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. Attorney General William Barr last week sent a note to prosecutors and violent crime officers urging them to pursue their gun cases. “I’m afraid things are getting out of hand,” he wrote, according to the Newspaper. Jurisdictions across the country have reduced jails and arrests in an attempt to facilitate the spread of the viral infection. Barr has often denounced the actions of local progressive prosecutors to reduce convictions for low-level offenders, including firearms offenses.

DATA POINT

Before the coronavirus crisis, an investigation found that approximately 4.6 million American children and adolescents live in a house where at least one firearm is loaded and unsecured. – The trace



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