COVID-19 hasn’t curtailed the California Legislature’s never-ending quest for gun control. Read how it’s all part of the process in the Golden State HERE
The same cannot be said for efforts to maintain good governance in the Golden State. Through restrictions on access to the state capitol and disorganized attempts at remote hearings, Californians have had their opportunity to be heard during the legislative process diminished by the pandemic.
At present, a handful of significant gun control measures are making their way through the California Legislature.
AB 2847, which passed out of the State Assembly’s Public Safety committee on May 19, would curtail the models of handguns available for purchase in California by requiring the removal of three firearms from the Roster of Certified Handguns for each new model of handgun added to the roster.
That same day the Public Safety committee also advanced AB 2362, which would empower the California Department of Justice to further harass gun dealers by levying fines of up to $1,000 for minor technical violations.
On May 20, the Senate’s Public Safety committee passed SB 914. This legislation would further restrict the ability to loan long-guns to minors and tax gun owners by raising the fees the California Department of Justice can charge for eligibility checks on certain ammunition purchases and precursor parts.
According to NRA’s resources on the ground in Sacramento, changes made to hearing procedure ostensibly for COVID-19 have limited stakeholder participation. Despite being home to Silicon Valley, technical limitations along with confused procedures have limited the opportunity to comment on proposed legislation remotely. In at least one instance, disorderly procedures made it so that witnesses attempting to testify were not notified of when they would be able to speak. Testimony for one committee hearing had to be cut short when the committee appeared incapable of troubleshooting the third-party vendor technology that they were using for the hearing.
Further, during the COVID-19 outbreak, lobbyists have been discouraged from attending committee hearings in-person and meeting with lawmakers in their offices. The term “lobbyist” has taken on a negative connotation in some corners, but when it comes to a civil liberties group like the NRA it is undeserved. In the case of NRA, average gun rights supporters from all over California pool their resources to ensure that their views are represented during the legislative process. Lobbyists that communicate to lawmakers the views and concerns of their constituency, especially those of a grassroots community like NRA, are a vital part of the legislative process.
Restricting avenues of participation in government is anathema to a proper functioning republic. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects “the right of the people… to petition the government for a redress of grievances.?” In regards to lobbying, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun noted in his concurrence in Regan v. Taxation With Representation of Washington that “lobbying is protected by the First Amendment?.”
With their actions during the pandemic, the California Legislature has made clear, that in their view, extremist gun control proposals are essential, but the average citizen’s opportunity to meaningfully participate in the legislative process is not.
Some of America’s most pro-gun people ironically inhabit some of its most anti-gun locales. Like plants that can survive the harshest desert climates, they are among the hardiest of their kind. And for those in the know, they are as much a part of the Second Amendment landscape as cacti are to the desert. READ MORE
In New York City, epicenter both to America’s COVID-19 outbreak and to anti-Second Amendment fervor, one of the city’s gritty gun culture icons has already succumbed to the economic pressures of the Big Apples interminable lockdown and another is fighting for its life. Your help can ensure the latter survives.
First, the bad news. John Jovino Gun Shop on Grand Street in Little Italy and Chinatown had served New Yorkers since 1911 and billed itself as “the oldest gun shop in the USA.”
Ironically, 1911 was the same year Tammany Hall grifters – including Sen. Timothy Sullivan – enacted a New York State law that made possession and carrying of concealable firearms subject to a license issued at the discretion of local officials. In New York City, the infamous “Sullivan Act” was openly promoted as a way to keep firearms out of the hands of such “undesirables” as working class Italian immigrants, or the same people the New York Times described at the time as “[l]ow-browed foreigners.”
Born in those inauspicious times, John Jovino Gun Shop nevertheless managed to survive World War I, the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968-69, the blackout of 1977, the Cold War and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Passers-by were lured to the store by the unlikely sight in Manhattan of a giant wooden revolver hanging outside the shop.
But thanks to the modern manifestation of the Sullivan Act, there could be no impulse purchase of any such handgun at John Jovino. That act in New York City is still treated as a privilege reserved for the well-heeled or well-connected. At best, it involves hundreds of dollars in fees and takes the better part of a year, if it proves possible to the average city resident at all.
In the 1920s, John Jovino Gun Shop passed from its namesake founder to the Imperato family, who at the time lived in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Beginning in the 1990s, the business even included a gun factory in Brooklyn, which made reproductions of Civil War-era Henry Rifles and cap and ball Colt revolvers. That part of the operation later moved to Bayonne, New Jersey, and lives on as Henry Repeating Arms, now makers of fine lever-action rifles.
More recently, the Manhattan retail outlet was able to survive on the business of the local law enforcement community and some especially determined civilians. Fittingly for a New York City staple, it also appeared in hard-nosed film and television productions, including Serpico and Law and Order.
Charlie Hu, the store’s manager since 1995 and known in the neighborhood as Gun King Charlie, spoke emotionally to the local press upon the store’s closing last week. “I’m very emotional right now, as you can see, I am having a rough day. Everything is super sad,” he said. “My whole life went into this,” he continued.
Throughout the day, according to the article, longtime friends at the New York City Police Department called to thank Mr. Hu for responsibly serving the local community and to wish him well. Finally came a call from the boss himself, Anthony Imperato. “You are completing the mission,” he told his faithful employee of 25 years.
Meanwhile, further uptown on West 23rd Street, a steely survivor of the New York City Second Amendment community continues to fight for its life.
If making and selling guns seems unlikely in New York City, maintaining a public range in the heart of Manhattan seems downright preposterous. But Westside Rifle & Pistol Range has done just that for over half a century since its founding in 1964. Now it is Manhattan’s last surviving public range, offering equipment, facilities, and training to help local gun owners responsibly and effectively exercise their Second Amendment rights. It also helps New Yorkers negotiate the complicated process of applying for a handgun license in the city.
Unobtrusively located in the basement of a large office building, the facility has been run since 1989 by Darren Leung, a former New York State peace officer, who said a lifelong interest in firearms was shaped by uncles on both sides of the law. An NBC News profile noted in 2017 that local gun owners are as likely to come by Westside to shoot the breeze as the targets in the range’s multiple shooting bays. The business is known for its friendly and welcoming atmosphere, its big city locale notwithstanding
A staunch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, Leung and his business are undoubtedly a lynchpin in keeping a meaningful Second Amendment alive in America’s most populous city. Perhaps prophetically, Leung told NBC three years ago: “If I ever close, I might be killing off a whole couple of generations of shooters ahead of us. … So it’s always in the back of my mind that it’s important to maintain the range, and to maintain it correctly.”
That is exactly why members of the gun owning community have established a GoFundMe account to help keep West Side Rifle & Pistol afloat during the city’s ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. New York City rents are brutal under the best of circumstances. When there’s no opportunity for regular income, they can doom even the most resilient of businesses and business owners.
Gun owners to date have been generous, and the range remains determined to fight on for as long as possible. Said the organizer of the effort, “It’s both overwhelming and humbling to realize how many folks care and love us.“
For the time being, Westside continues to stand as a symbol of America’s Second Amendment culture even in the core of the Big Apple. A symbol that even the city’s many notorious anti-gun snobs, chief among them former mayor Michael Bloomberg, have yet been able to extinguish.
What the song said of New York is as true for the Second Amendment as it for aspiring talents: if it can make it there, it can make it anywhere. With luck, grit, and the help of gun owners, New York City’s pro-gun stalwarts will hopefully add the COVID-19 pandemic to the long list of challenges they have successfully overcome.
Of all the recent developments in American life arising from state lockdown orders, perhaps none is so sinister as public officials encouraging people to inform on their neighbors and community members for perceived violations of supposed safety protocols.
This trend is made all the worse by the fact that people are getting an unprecedented glimpse into each others’ homes through pervasive online video conferences now being used to facilitate activities like work, school, and religious worship. For one family in Pennsylvania, the “discomfort” a schoolmate’s parent felt about seeing a toy gun in a Zoom call even resulted in police showing up at their home.
A segment on the May 15 edition of the Todd Starnes Radio Show included an interview with Sheila Perez Smith, the mother of a 7–year—old first grader. Perez Smith recounted how the child had received a plastic toy gun as a gift, which quickly became the boy’s “favorite new thing.”
During a school-related Zoom call with his classmates and teacher at the Cumberland Valley School District, she said, the boy was seated with the toy next to him. He was not, however, interacting with it in any way.
After the call concluded, the family received an email from the child’s teacher “basically saying that another parent of another classmate had been very uncomfortable by the fact that the gun had been in view of the Zoom call.”
But that was not the end of the incident.
Within a couple of hours, Perez Smith said, an officer from the Hampden Township Police Department came to their home and asked the family to step outside so he could question them about a complaint involving a child and a gun.
The boy’s parents explained that it was only a toy gun and showed it to the officer. They went on to reassure the officer that they have no actual firearms in their home and that everyone in the residence was safe and well.
Perez Smith indicated she thought that would have ended any concern over the matter. Nevertheless, she said, “I did not feel that it was something where they said, ‘We understand. We just had to follow through.’ They took if very seriously, as if there was some sort of chance that we had weapons in the home.”
She also said the police officer made a point of continuing to lecture the family about the necessity of keeping children away from any sort of guns, even once he understood there was no danger to the kids.
Perez Smith stressed that she did not blame the school itself and called Cumberland Valley “a wonderful district that we have always loved.”
The problem, she believed, arose because another parent claimed to feel “uncomfortable” over the sight of a completely harmless object in the privacy of someone else’s home. “I don’t believe the accusation was made with concern for my own child,” she said, but because the other parent objected to that parent’s child being exposed to the sight of a fake gun.
Indeed, officious busybodies are being encouraged not only to report violations of public health orders but to call out perceived violations of political correctness during “virtual meetings.” An article providing advice from two professors at state public universities warned that the sight of wedding pictures and references to fun family activities during online meetings can be construed as “microaggressions.” Strategies to counter these offenses, they counseled, include “calling out microaggressions when they occur, whether “naming [them] on the spot” or taking action after the fact.
Yet the example of one Pennsylvania family shows how radical intolerance toward others’ private choices can have damaging effects on children who are too young to understand the culture wars being waged by politically-motivated adults.
Perez Smith described how her children – already experiencing anxiety, sadness, and confusion over the idea of having to shelter from a dangerous virus – were subjected to the additional fear that their parents would be taken away by the police.
She also noted that the family will be opting out of future school-related Zoom calls. While that will result in further isolation of the children from their peers, she sees it as a necessary safeguard against “completely bogus” accusations like the one her family endured.
While much in the world has been suspended or stopped, our efforts to protect and defend the Second Amendment must go on. Creativity is the the key!
While we all know the most effective methods of communicating with voters about an upcoming election involve person-to-person interaction, current circumstances make that near impossible. Thus, we must adapt and adjust to make sure we are utilizing all the tools in our grassroots toolbox to make sure our fellow Second Amendment supporters are kept updated on the importance of the 2020 elections, as well as all issues pertaining to our firearm freedoms. And as always, our efforts to engage voters is highly dependent on you!
Below are some of the ways that we are reaching out to remind everyone of the importance of the Second Amendment during these uncertain times. If you are interested in assisting, contact us at (800) 392-VOTE (8683) or ILA-Contact@nrahq.org, and we will put you in touch with your state’s Grassroots Coordinator so he/she may assist you. Or, you may undertake many of these activities on your own with your own networks.
Making Phone Calls: Now that more of the population is choosing to spend time at home, we are reaching out to them over the phone. Our goal is to remind everyone that with all of the declarations of states of emergency, now is an important time to stay vigilant in defense of our Second Amendment Rights. Make sure you are also proactively calling your family, friends, and fellow firearms owners as well, reiterating this important news and keeping them informed.
Sending Text Messages: One method of reaching out to voters that is relatively new in our Grassroots arsenal is to send text messages. Using a number of different systems, we are able to give volunteers log in credentials and then assign a list of voters to communicate with. The best part about this type of peer-to-peer text messaging is that you can actually see who responds to your message, and if the voter has questions, you can answer them in real time! As with phone calls, you too can simply create your own text groups and keep them posted with regular updates and calls to action.
Hosting Web Based Meetings: Another relatively new technology that your Grassroots Programs and Campaign Field Operations Division has used to expand our reach is our web-based meeting software. We have been able to hold virtual meetings in an effort to help educate and train new volunteers and campaign staff all across the country, and have taken steps to better utilize this software to stay connected during these uncertain times. As we host webinars open to our members and supporters, we will be sure to alert you and provide you with instructions on how to access these informative briefings.
If you would like to get involved in any of the efforts mentioned above, please contact us at (800) 392-VOTE (8683) or ILA-Contact@nrahq.org, and we will put you in touch with your state’s Grassroots Coordinator so he/she may assist you. Phone calls and text messages can be done from anywhere into any of our election priority states, and we can use the web-based meetings to show you how step-by-step.
It’s more important than ever that we continue to think and work creatively and strategically to make sure we and our supporters are as engaged in our mutual efforts as possible.
Last week, Judge Douglas P. Woodlock of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued a preliminary injunction that allows gun stores to resume operation in the Bay State as long as they adhere to a set of social distancing guidelines. The ruling is an important victory in the fight to protect Second Amendment rights during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
On March 23, Governor Charlie Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 13, which required the closure of all businesses not deemed “essential.” The order did not designate gun stores as “essential” businesses.
On March 28, the Trump administration updated the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) guidance on the critical infrastructure that should remain open during state shutdown orders due to COVID-19. The guidance identified “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges” as critical infrastructure.
Following the federal government’s determination, on March 31, Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 21. Complying with the DHS guidelines, the order designated firearms retailers as “essential” businesses.
However, later that same day the Baker administration removed firearm retailers and shooting ranges from the list of essential businesses. This reversal was cheered by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who declared to her Twitter followers, “Gun shops and shooting ranges are NOT essential businesses during a public health emergency.”
On April 9, a group of Massachusetts gun stores filed suit to halt Baker’s gun store closure on Second Amendment grounds. Later that month, NRA and its state affiliate Gun Owners’ Action League filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.
In the amicus brief, NRA made clear that Baker’s orders were an impermissible violation of the Second Amendment. The brief pointed out that in the landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a total ban on the acquisition of a single class of firearm — handguns. Baker’s order effectively prohibited the acquisition of all classes of firearms in Massachusetts and therefore are illegal under Supreme Court precedent.
Further, the brief noted that Baker’s order was impermissible under First Circuit precedent. In the 2018 case Gould v. Morgan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit adopted a controversial two-step analysis for Second Amendment cases. First the court must determine “whether the challenged law burdens conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee.” If the measure does implicate the Second Amendment right then the court is tasked with determining what level of scrutiny to apply to the measure and whether the law is permissible under that level of scrutiny.
In Gould, the First Circuit “identified the core of the Second Amendment right as ‘the possession of operative firearms for use in defense of the home’ by responsible, law-abiding individuals.” As Baker’s order foreclosed the ability to acquire firearms for this purpose, the order struck at the core of the Second Amendment right.
The First Circuit also made clear in Gould that “A law or policy that burdens conduct falling within the core of the Second Amendment requires a correspondingly strict level of scrutiny.” Therefore analysis of the Baker orders demands strict scrutiny.
Strict scrutiny requires that the Government prove the restriction furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. A closure of all firearms-related businesses is not narrowly tailored. Moreover, the state cannot demonstrate that a blanket closure of firearm retailers will directly or materially alleviate the harms posed by COVID-19 considering the plaintiffs challenging the order stated that they would abide by all social distancing and workforce requirements for the operation of essential businesses.
Woodlock’s order underscores the excessive nature of Baker’s actions, as the standard for obtaining a preliminary injunction is rigorous. A plaintiff must show that they are likely to succeed on the merits of the case, show that there is irreparable harm without the injunction, demonstrate that the balance of equities is in their favor, and establish that the injunction is in the public interest. In granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Woodlock made clear that Baker’s orders are likely unconstitutional, cause irreparable harm to Bay Staters’ rights, and that this attack on Second Amendment rights was against the public interest.
According to Reuters, Baker told the press that his office will review Woodlock’s order and stated, “[w]e will certainly comply with any kind of judicial ruling on anything.” Sincere compliance with a lawful court order would mark a welcome change in the Baker administration. In late 2018, the Baker administration declared its intent to defy court orders issued by the state’s courts pertaining to the issuance of firearms licenses before backing down in early 2019.
NRA will continue to monitor the situation in Massachusetts and work to ensure that Second Amendment rights are not a casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. Please visit HERE to stay up-to-date on this and other important COVID-19 related Second Amendment issues.
April 2020 set another record for background checks conducted through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Check System (NICS). READ MORE
The FBI NICS office conducted 2,911,128 background checks last month — a nearly 25% increase from the previous April, which had been the previous record high for the month of April.
April 2020 is now the fourth-busiest month in the history of the NICS office. Moreover, the week of April 13th through the 19th is the 9th busiest week in NICS history.
The more than 2.9 million checks run last month included: 984,872 checks related to the transfer of a handgun; 508,122 checks related to the transfer of a long gun; 68,746 checks related to “other” transfers; and, 34,779 checks related to multiple transfers in one transaction. There were also 311,568 permit checks and an additional 888,385 permit rechecks.
To be blunt: Americans set another record for background checks last month because we are a nation of law-abiding gun owners intent on keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe. Nearly three-million background checks to purchase a firearm or obtain a permit were conducted in just the thirty days of April. That is not a small group of “super gun owners” stockpiling thousands of firearms or some small subset of the general population.
Gun owners include all, from every race, gender, and creed. We — the gun owning community — reflect the overall population because we are a significant part of the overall population.
April continued the 2020 trend of record-setting months for the NICS office. January was (at the time) the sixth-busiest month ever and the busiest January by far. February saw even more checks than January, making it the third busiest month ever (at the time) and easily set the February record. March reset the all-time record with more than 3.7 million checks.
This is not an emerging trend. December 2019 saw more than 2.9 million NICS checks and was the second-busiest December ever. Before that, each of these months in 2019 had set the record for that respective month: April, May, June, August, September, October, and November. Of course, April 2020 and May 2020 shattered those respective records.
There were more NICS checks run in 2019 than in any other year, and there were more run in 2018 than any prior year except 2016. The four busiest years for the NICS offices have been the last four years. So far this year, there have been 32% more NICS checks run than there were in the same time period in 2019.
We suspect that we may see more NICS records broken this year. The anti-gun billionaires see these numbers, as do their “volunteers” and their bought-and-sold puppets. Do you think that Mike Bloomberg is going to take this as a sign that the American people support 2nd Amendment rights?
This is a man who spent more than a billion dollars on a shortsighted bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination that only lasted three months. Bloomberg and his allies — as well as those that depend on his funding for their campaigns –will double down as they try to eliminate gun rights in the United States.
We respect the millions of Americans who have decided to become law-abiding gun owners in 2020, but their rights may be revoked if they do not vote this November.
Protecting our rights will take every one of us. Every single American that applied for a permit and/or purchased a firearm this year must do everything they can to help us protect our rights.
Volunteer. Spread the word. Get your family and friends registered to vote. Vote and make your friends and family vote, too.
NRA is always looking for volunteers. See how you can help today.
Aaron Eaton learned how to shoot in the Army back in 2006 but holstered a pistol for the last time when he left in 2009 and took a job as a technician for a sewer company. That all changed on March 26 when the father of four walked out of an Alabama gun store with a Beretta 92FS, the same gun he handled as a military policeman at the height of the Iraq war.
“Simply put: I wanted peace of mind when it comes to the safety of my family,” Eaton said.
Eaton’s pistol was one of 2.3 million firearms to fly off the shelves in March, the single busiest month for gun sales ever. The Washington Free Beacon spoke to half a dozen new gun owners who purchased a total of six handguns and two shotguns. All of the new gun owners provided proof of purchase, though some asked not to have their last names published because of potential career backlash.
“To me, it’s all about protecting my family, and if a gun makes that easier, so be it,” Scott, a California tech worker with a wife and daughter, said.
Many of the new gun owners cited concerns about personal protection as states began emptying jail cells and police departments announced they would no longer enforce certain laws. Jake Wilhelm, a Virginia-based environmental consultant and lacrosse coach, purchased a Sig Sauer P226 after seeing Italy enact a nationwide lockdown on March 9.
“[My fiancée and I] came to the conclusion in early March that if a nation like Italy was going into full lockdown, we in the U.S. were likely on the same path,” Wilhelm said. “Given that, and knowing that police resources would be stretched to the max, I decided to purchase a handgun.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade group, said new customers represented a large swath of new gun sales even as gun stores faced depleted stocks and shutdown orders from state and local governments across the country. “A large portion of the 2.3 million sales during the month of March were to first-time buyers is what we’re hearing back from our retailers,” Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the group, said.
Retailers told the Free Beacon they’d never experienced anything like the recent surge of new buyers.
Brandon Wexler of Wex Gunworks in Delray Beach, Fla., said “at least 50 percent” of his sales in March were to first-time buyers. Michael Cargill of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, Texas, said he was getting “100 calls an hour” at the peak and most were from new customers. Wayne Viden, vice president of Bob’s Little Gun Shop in Glassboro, N.J., said he also noticed an influx of new buyers.
“I think a lot of people were afraid of exactly what’s happening now,” Viden said. “They’re afraid if it continues to go on longer, things are going to get worse.”
Charrie Derosa, a saleswoman at Wex Gunworks, said shopworkers attempted to alleviate the unease caused by the lethal virus.
“‘We’re here for you.’ That’s the exact feeling that you have when you’re standing there and you’re looking at them,” she said. “And you can see it. You saw fear. You saw desperation.”
The fear extended past the disease to how communities would bear the strain of job loss, lockdown orders, and law enforcement policies adopted in the wake of the spread. One Tampa inmate who was released over coronavirus concerns has now been accused of murder, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Brian, a 40-year-old living near Tampa, lost his full-time bartending job in March but was concerned enough about deteriorating public safety that he dipped into his savings to purchase a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield.
“My biggest fear is that our local police force comes down with the virus,” he said. “If the good guys are all out sick, who is going to stop the bad guys? When people have no hope, they get desperate. And we fear the worst is to come.”
Scott, the California tech worker, said he is preparing not just for thinned policing, but for a potential uptick in hate crimes against his family. While he is not Asian, his wife and daughter are. He said they have already faced racial harassment during the outbreak.
“Just walking on the street, folks have honked and yelled at us [for] wearing masks,” he said. “And robberies are common in Asian communities. I worry about them.”
Matthew Rosky, a North Carolinian who bought a Benelli 12-gauge shotgun for himself and a 20-gauge shotgun for his wife on April 4, said he doesn’t “plan on being relieved of my property or my life if it comes to that.” He said the couple lost their home to a landslide in 2019 and the threat of a national emergency pushed them to follow through on the purchase they had already been considering.
“I am not real enthused with politicians letting criminals out of jails, nor will I be surprised to see crime go up since many police departments are not responding to anything but the worst emergencies,” Rosky said. “Obviously, this is a pessimistic outlook but, ‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,’ seems like a good mantra at the moment.”
Andrew, a federal contractor living in Virginia who bought a Heckler & Koch VP9 for himself and one for his wife on March 21, said he had already experienced societal breakdown firsthand. He was a student at the University of Southern California during the Los Angeles riots and witnessed some of the destruction. He recalled “the acrid smell of smoke and the ceaseless police and fire sirens and LAPD choppers” as “the most poignant and searing memories” of his lifetime.
“The sad reality [is] that civil order can break down in less than 12 hours and the overwhelmed police can’t help you,” he said. “As I explained to my wife, I’ve seen things go sideways quickly — and with unpredictable results.”
Some of the new gun owners now find themselves caught in the political battles that have emerged in the wake of the coronavirus. Santa Clara County shut down gun stores before Scott could pick up his Smith & Wesson .357 revolver.
“To me, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it,” he said. “That’s why it’s frustrating to have that right taken away.”
Retailers said customers like Scott are the reason they have resisted shutdown orders. The stay-at-home order in Texas did not include an exemption for gun stores, but Cargill of Central Texas Gun Works kept his doors open even before state attorney general Ken Paxton said localities cannot shutter gun stores.
“I’m refusing to shut down because a lot of people lost their jobs,” Cargill said. “They don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from but they do know it’s up to them to protect their family. And they’re coming to me and they’re saying, ‘Hey, I have food for now and I have water and I have medicine but what I don’t have is a firearm to protect my house.'”
The adjustment to being a new gun owner has been easy for Eaton, the Alabama veteran.
“It’s the weapon the Army trained me with. I figured I should go back to something I’m familiar with,” he said.
He is an outlier among those the Free Beacon spoke to. A majority said they want to pursue further training–including those needed for carry-permits–once lockdowns are lifted and classes are available again. With closures in place, Scott has turned to online communities and video training. He said he had been impressed by what he’s seen from gun owners both in-person and online.
“It’s all about safety first and practice, practice, practice,” he said.
Owners face challenges as the nationwide lockdown persists. READ MORE
by Susanne Edward
Since late February, gun manufacturers have been doing all they can to keep the supplies flowing as gun sales soar.
“It has been a large, quick increase. People are mostly looking for under $500 handguns, ammunition and basic AR-15s–the people’s gun,” said Joe Meaux, owner of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Aklys Defense.
However, the rise in gun sales was left in limbo in several parts of the country as several state and local governments declared that gun stores are not “essential” businesses.
Even though the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in late March, deemed gun stores fundamental and gave the green light for them to remain open along with grocery stores and pharmacies, some local and state governments, including those in Massachusetts, New York and New Mexico, ordered them closed and thereby ignited a litigious firestorm.
Some parts of California also used the government’s long arm to shutter gun stores, with a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissing a lawsuit put forward by shop owners and gun-rights groups seeking a temporary order allowing them to re-open.
Roman Kaplan, owner of City Arms East in Pleasant Hill, Calif., who has filed a lawsuit against the local government, said that sales had initially “sky-rocketed” until they suddenly received a call last month from their local police department mandating they close down.
“We are unable to serve our customers as we are closed,” Kaplan said. “Yet criminals are being let out of jails and police departments are taking officers off the streets.”
Meanwhile, police departments and first responders are hardly immune to the coronavirus. They have been impacted by sickness and deaths in their ranks, and for weeks some departments have been warning communities they cannot respond to calls and crimes as they normally would.
“Folks started to realize the need for self-protection/preservation as news of the pandemic was nationalized,” said Gordon Gray, owner-partner of Sparks Black Rifle, in Sparks, Nev., which has been allowed to remain open. “People at first started buying shotguns and pistols. Then they moved to rifles, and then whatever was available.”
As the demand increased and the inventory decreased, Gray says the shipping times also increased. In some cases, they are three weeks behind.
Many gun-store owners also say they’ve seen a massive increase in first-time buyers.
“Many are opening their eyes as to how a firearm is acquired. Most thought they could simply purchase one from the internet or a gun show,” Gray said. “Some became angry at their politicians for not being truthful about how a firearm is purchased.”
Aside from some unconstitutional state and local restrictions, the pandemic’s large-scale lockdown has hurt the industry in other ways, too.
Gary Eliseo, the founder of the Arizona-based accessories retailer Competition Machine Inc., said that while his state has allowed them to continue working, the business has been drained primarily because of the loss of competitive shooting events.
“We need customers with disposable income to stay in this business; the longer we stay shut down, the more difficult the employment situation will be,” said Eliseo. “But it is clear to most of us who value our constitutional rights that the Second Amendment is more important now than ever. Citizens need the ability to protect themselves.”
Giffords delivers sarcastic comments to those trying to protect their family and property. READ MORE
The FBI performed a record-breaking 3.7 million firearm-related background checks last month. According to an April news release from Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting (SAAF), March 2020 estimates of firearm sales show an increase of over 85% from March 2019 – single handgun sales jumped by 91%, and single long-gun sales increased by over 73%.
In an interview with Cheddar news earlier this month, David Chipman, a “senior policy advisor” for the anti-gun group Giffords, was asked about his “biggest concerns” regarding the “coronavirus gun sales spike.” (If the name rings a bell, Mr. Chipman, formerly a “senior advisor” with Bloomberg’s pre-Everytown group MAIG and an ex-ATF agent, has, among other things, advocated that AR-15 rifles should be regulated “just like” fully automatic machine guns.)
During the interview, he claimed that first-time gun owners may think “in their [own] mind they might be competent.” However, they were really “putting themselves and their families in danger” based on whether these guns were being “stored safely” and properly in the home. Sitting in what appeared to be his own kitchen, Chipman advised “those people who were first-time gun owners” to “secure that gun locked and unloaded and hide it behind the cans of tuna and beef jerky that you’ve stored in a cabinet and only bring that out if the zombies start to appear, and I don’t think they are.”
Of course, following this advice means that the firearm isn’t readily available for defensive use should the need arise. (Hiding firearms among the kitchen cabinets, the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer or in the flour bin also isn’t consistent with the Giffords philosophy of mandating that all unattended firearms be kept unloaded, with a lock in place, and secured in a gun safe or other locked container.)
The real issue — apart from why anyone would take the advice of someone who thinks beef jerky comes in cans — is Chipman’s apparent incredulity at the need to keep guns in the home for self-defense. Even with law enforcement stretched thin due to sick or quarantined officers, and hundreds of inmates being released from jails and prisons (here, here, here and here), this former ATF SWAT team member assures us all that there’s nothing to fear because, well, “the zombies” aren’t coming.
Chipman, quoted elsewhere, had expanded on his jerky-zombie theme. “If we can imagine how horrible this crisis is … the people who hoarded the guns might decide six months from now – once they see no zombies around but they’ve run out of tuna and beef jerky – that they need the money to buy food.” The “horrible” part, apparently, is not just running out of food, but the more disturbing possibility of the private sales of these firearms.
In contrast to the weird pointers on how to store guns in the kitchen, the NRA has launched new online gun safety courses to address “the growing number of first-time gun buyers during the coronavirus outbreak.” Joe DeBergalis, executive director of NRA General Operations, says “[t]hese courses will provide an option for first-time gun owners who don’t have the ability to take an NRA certified instructor-led class at their local shooting range at this time. While there is no replacement for in-person, instructor-led training, our new online classes do provide the basics of firearm safety training for those self-isolating at home.”
The zombies aren’t coming, but regardless of how gun control advocates depict this recent, unprecedented affirmation of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, law-abiding Americans — now as ever — are putting their money on the Second Amendment to keep themselves and their families safe.
Nation’s Leader Protects Citizens’ Rights. READ MORE
As NRA is actively fighting gun store closures across the country, President Trump’s newly-updated DHS guidance echoes what the NRA is arguing in court: that firearms and ammunition retailers are “critical infrastructure.”
On March 28, DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) updated its guidance on the critical infrastructure that the agency determined should remain open during state shutdown orders due to Covid-19.
The new guidance identifies the following firearms and ammunition industry workers as critical infrastructure:
“Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.”
Several states relied on CISA’s failure to include firearms retailers in prior guidance as a reason to order those businesses to shut down.
The Free Beacon reported that New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal (D) cited the DHS guidance as support for Governor Phil Murphy’s (D) decision to completely shut off firearm transfers in the Garden State.
“The governor’s executive order tracks every other executive order that has a stay-at-home provision and none of those — none of those — contain an exemption for firearm stores and nor does the federal guidance from Homeland Security contain that type of exemption when it comes to essential facilities and nonessential facilities,” Grewal said.
NRA looks forward to a speedy reversal by New Jersey and other states who have claimed to rely on CISA’s guidelines in determining what businesses are “essential” and can therefore lawfully remain open during “shelter-in-place” orders.
Please join us in thanking President Trump and his administration for once again keeping his promise to protect the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Americans.
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