States across the country have swiftly adopted draconian measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, including an indefinite suspension of their citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
New York has taken some of the most extreme measures. According to a phone survey of all 62 New York counties conducted by 2ANYS, a full 84 percent of counties (52) have suspended or ignored their duty to continue processing pistol permits.
Thirty-eight counties confirmed that they’ve suspended pistol permitting activities until further notice, six counties have stopped tracking whether permit applications are being processed, and two counties are no longer making staff available to process permits. One county admitted that delays will occur as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and five additional counties have already imposed a de facto ban on permits.
“During a period of crisis when entire law enforcement patrol divisions could be brought down by COVID-19 exposure and 911 response times could grow to an hour or more as a result, government agents are making it impossible for citizens to lawfully defend themselves in the home,” 2ANYS Founder Steve Felano said.
New York also forced the closure of Remington Arms in Ilion, NY, until April 30 because the factory was deemed “non-essential.”
According to Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent J. Bono, Remington Arms payroll makes up about a sixth of the county’s total economy. The closure “will be devastating to the families of those workers,” he told the Observer-Dispatch.
Remington has already faced a difficult two years. The company has survived bankruptcy, unsuccessful product launches, and a lawsuit from families of Sandy Hook victims. The company will no doubt take another economic hit as a result of the governor’s order.
Felano recommends that rather than suspend the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers, the state should use the emergency declaration to suspend the “may issue” provision that requires local law enforcement to approve individual pistol permits.
“This would ensure as many New Yorkers as possible are armed and able to defend themselves given the high likelihood that 911 response times will substantially increase in the coming weeks and months as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens as a direct result of international, federal, and state government ineptitude,” he said.
His fears aren’t unfounded. The New York Times reported on March 12 that responses to 911 calls could be significantly delayed if the virus spreads throughout the population. Police departments also worry that they won’t be able to respond to emergencies if their forces are depleted by the virus.
The police department in Overland Park, Kan., for example, told the NYT that they plan to train school resource officers as patrol officers and respond to fewer noninjury accidents and reports of retail theft.
“In order to maintain that 911 response,” said Frank Donchez, the police chief, “we’re going to scale back on other things. We’d be naïve to think that our officers wouldn’t be impacted.”