The NRA and a group of other activists recently sued the leadership of the city and county of Los Angeles. At issue is the government’s declaration that firearms dealers are “non-essential” and must be closed. The suit was filed on Friday, March 27.
The plaintiffs hold that closing gun shops is unconstitutional because it infringes on citizens’ 2nd and 14th amendment rights.
“The circumstances posed by the Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) outbreak are noteworthy,” they wrote in their suit, “but do not excuse unlawful government infringements upon freedom. 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.”
They go on to say that the orders for closure enacted by the governor, the department of health, and the sheriff are “unconstitutionally vague, arbitrary and capricious and violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights of Plaintiffs and similarly situated Californians.” They call these orders “fiats,” as a dictator would issue and are seeking a preliminary injunction.
On March 28th, the Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum identifying “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.” This document describes all the industries that should remain open as well as identifies employees who should continue attending to their jobs during quarantine conditions. They emphasize that this list is advisory.
Under the section for “Law Enforcement, Public Safety, and Other First Responders” it addresses those who support the firearm industry.
Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.cisa.gov
Although this was an advisory document, not a federal order, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva allowed gun shops to reopen on March 30. Does that make the lawsuit moot?
U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte doesn’t think so. On April 6th he denied the NRA’s suit for a temporary restraining order.
“The closure of nonessential businesses, including firearms and ammunition retailers, reasonably fits the city’s and county’s stated objectives of reducing the spread of this disease,” the judge said in his decision.
Kris Brown, president of the anti-gun group Brady, applauded the Judge’s decision.
“The court has upheld that, in response to public health and safety emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic, state and local governments may take emergency actions to protect citizens, including restricting certain rights and activities,” she said.
Brown continued, “The Second Amendment is not absolute, and it does not entitle people to spread coronavirus while shopping for guns.”
Meanwhile, the NRA has indicated that it will continue to appeal the ruling all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. Gun stores may be back open in L.A. but the precedent of declaring gun stores “non-essential” is a dangerous one and must be blocked.