Editors’ Note: Some material sourced from the April 3, 2020, New York Post. In today’s Brief Cases, VoxFairfax considers whether shooting is fun–or not.
New York is trampling on Second Amendment rights by shuttering gun stores during the coronavirus pandemic, the National Rifle Association says in a new lawsuit.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to label gun shops “nonessential” businesses has made it virtually impossible for New Yorkers to legally buy a firearm in the state, the gun rights group argued in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday. The suit asks the court to declare gun stores essential businesses that can operate during the virus crisis.
“The current public health emergency does not justify the complete elimination of this right [to bear arms], especially during a time when many New Yorkers have valid concerns about their physical safety and welfare,” . . . a lawyer for the NRA, said in a statement.
“The current public health emergency does not justify the complete elimination of this right [to bear arms], especially during a time when many New Yorkers have valid concerns about their physical safety and welfare,” a lawyer for the NRA said in a statement.
Cuomo issued an executive order March 20 forcing nonessential businesses to close to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Gun stores are not on the list of “essential” establishments, which include grocery stores, pharmacies, and carry-out restaurants.
The NRA said New York’s stance differs from that of the Trump administration, which included workers supporting gun retailers and manufacturers on a list of “critical infrastructure” released last week. That guidance led New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to allow his state’s gun retailers to operate by appointment only. Virginia’s Civilian Defense League, the Commonwealth’s most visible gun rights advocate, has threatened legal action but has not yet formal acted.
The Virginia dispute is more narrow because the Governor’s closure order affected indoor shooting ranges. Notably, though, the NRA headquarters in Fairfax County maintains an indoor shooting range, which is covered under the emergency order.
The Department of Homeland Security issued guidelines, not mandates, including the firearms industry as part of the nation’s essential infrastructure. That statement, however, is a far distance from a legal criterion that the NRA alleges to sustain a federal lawsuit. Additionally, New York State had previously terminated a significant income- producing insurance program under NRA auspices.
New York’s Attorney General vowed to defend the state against the NRA’s claim. The group has brought similar complaints in California. “Everyone, including the NRA, must follow the law and all executive orders of New York,” the AG tweeted.
Some states are experiencing a surge in gun sales and the FBI recently reported a spike in requests for background checks. Gun control advocates interpret the NRA lawsuits as mechanisms to stem financial and membership hemorrhaging resulting from the organization’s internal conflicts and questions concerning spending practices. Recent reports cited salary cuts and staff terminations.