The Legal Arguments for Closing Gun Shops During COVID-19 Pandemic

(Photo: Everytown for Gun Safety)

Any lawyers out there? Constitutional scholars?  Law school professors?  

Here’s a question for you: Does it violate the Constitution to shutter gun stores and firearms manufacturers during a global pandemic?  

Attorneys for Everytown Law, the litigation arm of Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, argued in a memorandum this week that closing down FFLs during the COVID-19 crisis does not violate one’s right to keep and bear arms.  

“The Second Amendment does not require that gun stores be singled out for special treatment and allowed to remain open during the most significant public health crisis of the last 100 years,” said Eric Tirschwell, managing director of Everytown Law. 

“As broad laws that apply to thousands of businesses, these closure orders are clearly designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, not undermine anyone’s Second Amendment rights,” he continued.  “The courts have made clear that broad, generally-applicable laws like these are constitutional.” 

SEE ALSO: Inmates Released to Protect Against COVID-19 Already Committing Murder

The memorandum was published in the wake of the Trump administration’s recent decision to add the gun industry to the list of “critical infrastructure,” an overt suggestion that these are “essential” businesses and should remain open for business.  

While that federal guideline is non-binding, meaning the states don’t necessarily have to adhere to it, at least one state, New Jersey, has taken note and reversed its initial decree that FFLs are “non-essential.”  

“In accordance with the guidance released over the weekend by the federal Department of Homeland Security, we will allow firearms sellers to operate,” said NJ Gov. Phil Murphy during a Monday press conference.

“It wouldn’t have been my definition, but that’s the definition at the federal level. I didn’t get a vote on that,” he added.

Pro-gun groups, like the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), are actively suing states and local governments that are forcing gun shops to close.  Fundamentally, SAF argues that these emergency closure orders violate one’s 2A rights.  

But according to Everytown Law’s analysis, that argument doesn’t hold water because, emergency closure orders:

  • Affect thousands of businesses and are aimed at minimizing person-to-person contact and slowing the spread of COVID-19.
  • Do not specifically target guns or gun stores, just as they do not specifically target bookstores, political rallies, houses of worship or other locations that are being ordered closed notwithstanding their connection to constitutional rights.
  • Are examples of the sorts of generally-applicable rules that courts have held do not violate a constitutional right despite placing burdens on that right.

Mark Oliva, the Director of Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, indicated in an email to GunsAmerica that this legal memorandum is really just a sign that the anti-gun lobby is becoming desperate.

SEE ALSO: Over 160 New Jersey Police Officers Test Positive for COVID-19

“The recent protests by groups like Michael Bloomberg’s-funded Everytown and Moms Demand is testament to their realization that they know they are losing the argument,” said Oliva.

“Their arguments on the ability to close firearm retailers by executive order is nonsensical. They know this. If there was a chance any of these arguments could have possibly survived legal challenge, the governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania would have appeared before a federal judge to argue these points. They chose not to. It can only be surmised that they knew they would lose,” he continued.

Oliva went on to say that the “true intentions” of Everytown are to use the current crisis to “deny Americans of their God-given rights” because the last thing it wants is a surge in the number of responsibly armed Americans. That’ll make enacting gun control in the future that much harder.

Well, what say you?  Is it unconstitutional for the government to shutter gun stores during a global pandemic?  

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Ric Brown May 5, 2020, 5:00 pm

    Gun stores and shooting ranges are essential to personal and home defense. Better prepared and trained gun owners make everyone safer. Well trained CCW holders are like having a cop in every home, business and car. The 2A is becoming more important and essential everyday.

  • James April 5, 2020, 1:14 am

    We the people don’t care about your” opinion or your agenda gloomburg” .

  • Andrew N. April 5, 2020, 12:32 am

    Show of hands: Does anyone on this site give a damn about what Everytown thinks or says? I didn’t think so. If Everytown had it’s way, there wouldn’t be gun stores to begin with, as guns would be illegal. Well Everytown, I have two words for you. The second one is “OFF”, the first isn’t really fit for print. It starts with an “F” and rhymes with “Duck”. Remember, Everytown is funded by FORMER Presidential “CANTidate” Little Mikey Bloomberg. He spent 500 MILLION DOLLARS to win 1 Primary, one of our U.S. possessions. He’ll gladly drop that much trying to influence local elections, like he has in the past ( See Virginia ) Get out and VOTE for your gun Rights, even if you are “pretty sure” Trump will win big. Pay attention at the local level as well. Slow death from a thousand little cuts…

  • RICK April 4, 2020, 6:34 pm

    The places they’re using as an example are all mass gathering places whereas gun shops normally have fewer than 5 people at a time in them.

  • Shan April 4, 2020, 1:34 am

    I live in California and gun shops are still open here. I’m up in Tuolumne County though, in the mountains.

  • Rob R April 3, 2020, 3:31 pm

    I just hope those folks who voted against gun rights and are now trying to buy one change their minds next time at the ballot box.

  • Easy Eddie April 3, 2020, 11:24 am

    The fish began to stink as soon as the word ‘Everytown’ was mentioned.

  • Mike April 3, 2020, 11:00 am

    Closed restaurants, bookstores, etc. are still allowed to provide drive thru or curb service. What makes it impossible for gun stores to provide the same service?

  • Zupglick April 3, 2020, 10:50 am

    I didn’t see the part in 2A where it says “Except in National Emergency.”

  • Rangemaster11B April 3, 2020, 10:35 am

    This, while jails are being emptied, and felons returned to the streets.

  • michael jolley April 3, 2020, 10:35 am

    “Any lawyers out there? Constitutional scholars? Law school professors?”

    If there are, YOU are not one of them. YOU are just an editor, and THIS is just an OPINION PIECE! A bad opinion, as well.

    • S.H. Blannelberry April 3, 2020, 10:39 am

      By all means Michael, please enlighten us…

    • T. Slemp April 3, 2020, 1:17 pm

      And, why is it that only lawyers and constitutional scholars are able to render a valid opinion on the Constitution? The second amendment is quite simple and was written for the People. I don’t read anywhere in the Constitution about a guarantee for healthcare, a job, a corona virus vaccine, or welfare check, or even that the government will protect me from getting sick. But it does clearly guarantee our right to possess and use firearms lawfully. Whether that guarantee extends to maintaining a retail outlet is another matter.

      • Mark S April 4, 2020, 12:48 pm

        The major issue I have with the 2nd Amendment is the opening statement:

        “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”

        I have yet to read or hear anyone actually interpret what the Founding Fathers meant by “Militia.” Does this mean that in order to “bear Arms” you need to be a member of a well regulated Militia? And, what is a well regulated Militia?

        Until there is a case before the Supreme Court that requires the Justices to determine what this means, there will always be ambiguity in understanding what were the Founding Fathers intentions.

        • Ray April 4, 2020, 2:20 pm

          Seriously? Have you not read the Heller decision? Stare decisis amigo.

        • Grifhunter April 5, 2020, 12:52 am

          “Until there is a case before the Supreme Court that requires the Justices to determine what this means…”

          Have you been living under a rock? Google “District of Columbia v. Heller”. The Supreme Court resolved that the militia is all the people, and that the precatory language did not but amplify the section that states “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”,

          Your silly militia ambiguity has been resolved and any thought that guns are just for government agents is in the dustbin of history.

  • Jim Cargill April 3, 2020, 10:21 am

    Three questions, to begin: 1. Is the ownership of a gun protected by the 2nd Amendment? Ans. YES 2. In any effort to protect oneself, one’s family, or their loved ones from serious harm or death, would a gun be the most reasonable and effective tool? Ans. Yes. Can any level of government reasonably predict when and/or where an individual may be faced with the situation indicated in Q2? Ans. NO

    If you follow those three questions, there is absolutely no argument that gun shops should not be open to the public, AT ANY TIME, whether during a crisis, or not.

  • T-Road April 3, 2020, 10:04 am

    What I have noticed here in Vermont that scares the bejezus out of the Bloomberg minions is that a large percentage of those buying firearms and ammo are 1st time buyers ! They are losing !

  • John April 3, 2020, 9:55 am

    Why is it called Evereytown? Just call it what it is Bloomberg’s website. Got something to hide? Every town in my county is pro-gun and no problems here. My guns are working fine and some I have had for 54 years.
    If you think you need gun laws then write them to say criminal gun laws and not public gun laws. The reason is it does fit your true agenda.

  • Awesome Bill from Dawsonville April 3, 2020, 9:47 am

    “The Second Amendment does not require that gun stores be singled out for special treatment and allowed to remain open during the most significant public health crisis of the last 100 years,” said Eric Tirschwell, managing director of Everytown Law.

    “As broad laws that apply to thousands of businesses, these closure orders are clearly designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, not undermine anyone’s Second Amendment rights.”

    Actually it would undermine the Second Amendment. Closing gun shops would prevent those who never owned a gun from buying one effectively denying them their rights. Closing gun shops could deny existing gun owners from buying ammunition, like selling a person a car but not letting them buy any gasoline.

    • Roland April 3, 2020, 12:10 pm

      There is a big difference guns are specifically covered and protected in the constitution automobiles are not.

  • Tom DiSarlo April 3, 2020, 9:46 am

    Eric Tirschwell is a traitor and an enemy of freedom and liberty.

  • Ghost April 3, 2020, 8:55 am

    Everything you say on this Forum is waiting Moderation…Either this is a Liberal Forum, or it needs to read the Constitution. Grow some Balls

    • S.H. Blannelberry April 3, 2020, 9:21 am

      We have to moderate comments due to spammers. If we don’t screen for spam, they completely take over the comments section.

  • Guido April 3, 2020, 8:47 am

    Here in Houston we have a barely-over teenage socialist County Judge (sort of like a county mayor here in Texas) elected during the democrat straight-party vote to try and get Beto O’Rourke (another commie) elected.
    Our brave patriotic Governor Abbot announced that “gun stores are essential businesses and will remain open”.
    So, our teenage commie judge announced that all shooting ranges, indoors or open-air (!) must close.
    That’s brilliant! A bunch of verge-of- panic new gun owners with no place to try them out and learn the basics of handling a firearm.
    Guess she showed us.

    • Pat Bryan April 3, 2020, 9:51 am

      When you resort to baseless ad hominem attacks as some sort of rebuttal, you are actually agreeing with Everytown Law’s thesis, which is based on sound legal and scientific facts.

      • Roland April 3, 2020, 12:17 pm

        Read what you plan to post before you post it you won’t sound like such a moron if you do (potentially, unless you just are a moron)

      • Michael April 3, 2020, 12:23 pm

        Please provide these legal & Scientific facts. That’s funny.

      • Grifhunter April 5, 2020, 12:55 am

        Really? Sound?
        Would there rationale apply to regulating the press? How about banning all media from public areas. Why don’t we do that to prevent the spread of the Chinese Wuhan virus? If if saves one life, its worth it right?

  • James Miller April 3, 2020, 8:27 am

    …but I suspect abortion clinics are considered “essential” to these folks.

    • John April 3, 2020, 10:56 am

      In Minnesota gun stores and abortion clinics are both considered critical industries and are specifically named in the governor’s executive order as such.

      • Jon April 6, 2020, 2:31 am

        But not in Texas: Gun rights – Yes, Women’s medical rights – No

  • Robert Lucas April 3, 2020, 8:11 am is the danger to Liberty and Freedom. The essence of an internal group of Anti-Constitutional,

  • Robert Lucas April 3, 2020, 8:08 am, and anyone associated with them are nothing more than Socialist/Democrat/Communists.

    The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and it behooves all vigilant lovers of liberty to know and be able to recognize the various types of arms prohibitionists and understand their differing but equally dangerous motives. Acquiring knowledge of one’s foes is the first step toward defeating them. We must never forget that a threat to private firearms ownership is a threat to all freedoms.
    The inalienable and fundamental right to keep and bear arms which is enumerated by (but predates) the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not about hunting, gun collecting, or target shooting. Its purpose is to ensure that every responsible American personally possesses the means to defend the Republic from all forms of tyranny, within and without. It is what permits the other nine Amendments in the Bill of Rights to be more than mere hollow phrases on a piece of paper. Its free exercise is the antithesis of serfdom and the only meaningful form of holocaust insurance known to man.
    We must never insult and degrade the spirits of our Founding Fathers by permitting the Second Amendment, the pillar of freedom, to be destroyed by the cold flame of legislative ink.

    Anti-Constitutionalist’s=Anti-Americans=Enemies of the United States…

  • Charles Baker April 3, 2020, 7:32 am

    I’m happy I live in Missouri. Statute of MO 44.101. Firearms and ammunition, state of emergency, no restrictions permitted. — The state, any political subdivision, or any person shall not prohibit or restrict the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transportation, storage, display, or use of firearms or ammunition during an emergency.

    Gun shops around me are limiting customers at a time. Or, doing door pickup.

  • JGinNJ April 3, 2020, 5:43 am

    This shutting down of “nonessential” businesses seems poorly thought out to me.
    1) Supermarkets and other food stores are allowed to stay open. They are mobbed and definitely there is risk there that should be monitored.
    2) For non-essential retail businesses, why not just have rules about the number of people that can be allowed to shop in a store at once? Stores could be open for individuals “upon appointment”, or some technique to keep the numbers in the stores down. There probably are fire rules that keep the number in a store below a certain limit, why not temporary rules for pandemics?
    3) Wouldn’t the supermarket crowding be reduced somewhat by having a program in which some essentials, say cleaning supplies or paper products, could be delivered for sale from “non-essential” businesses? You can have a mob fighting over 10 cases of toilet paper in the supermarket, or you could have 10 non-essential stores with a case of toilet paper each, to be sold “by appointment”. Which would expose the community to more infection risk?

  • Jim April 3, 2020, 2:47 am

    It’s very simple. Gun stores are the only stores that sale a product protected by the constitution.

  • Gary Benoit April 2, 2020, 11:13 am

    Although not designed to infringe on constitutional rights, the closure orders do in fact prevent people from defending themselves. When the police cannot or will not respond to a call, where does that leave a victim? Remember, the courts have long established that the police have no duty to protect you. Just because somebody like Tirschwell has an irrational fear of guns is no reason to prevent people from defending themselves or their property.

    • Roland April 3, 2020, 12:27 pm

      I don”t believe that Tirschwell has a phobia I think it is much worse he is a paid ass hole.

  • Will Drider April 2, 2020, 1:05 am

    Just as confessing Sins and asking for forgiveness before you die, diehard (Lol) anti-gun and non-gun people run by the thousands to buy a gun, any gun: before potentially life changing events occur. I think the most ardent gun grabber would prefer to have a gun in their hands if they knew their murdered was mere feet away. Every adult rational should be aware of the atrocious things “humans” are capable of, yet they deny any possiblity of “it” happening to them. Now they look around a realize the odds are changing as with every headline they read. The also read about the “secutity bill of goods” they bought into is less responsive as LE Roll Call number decline and their chosen dems/libs call for more criminals to be released from Jails and prisons throughout the U.S.. Failures of New York Bail Reform, keeping repeating offenders ON the streets was just a warning shot across the bow. The thousands (or more) they want released now: will have a major impact on society. Hope the bought more than one gun a a single box of ammo, they may well be fighting their own battles.

  • Keith April 1, 2020, 1:35 pm

    By the same argument, Everytown is not essential and should be closed during the epidemic.

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