Trump Designates Gun Retailers and Manufacturers as Essential Businesses

The Department of Homeland Security has designated gun retailers and manufacturers as essential businesses, a major step in protecting the firearms industry from mandatory closures at the behest of state and local governments as a result of states of emergency declarations involving the Chinese coronavirus.

The DHS guidelines describe the following workers as “essential:”

Workers supporting the manufacturing of safety equipment and uniforms for law enforcement, public safety personnel, and first responders.

Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.

The guidelines ultimately don’t stop states, counties and municipalities from ordering firearms retailers and manufacturers closed as part of emergency declarations, but Americans reliant on the firearms industry now can cite federal guidelines to make their case that gun stores should remain open.

Gun sales have surged throughout the coronavirus epidemic, as Americans seek to arm themselves in response to what they see as the increasing insecurity of American society during the unprecedented medical epidemic.

Some local governments, perhaps most notably Los Angeles county, have sought to force gun retailers to close. Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva was initially shut down in an attempt to close gun stores, but county authorities later permitted him to order the institutions closed. The state of New Jersey has also ordered the limited number of gun stores in the state closed.

Lawrence Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, had called upon DHS to identify firearms retailers as essential earlier in the month as state and municipal governments began ordering them to close.

We have seen over the past week hundreds of thousands, even millions of Americans choosing to exercise their right to keep and bear arms to ensure their safety and the safety of loved ones during these uncertain times,” emphasized Keane. “Americans must not be denied the ability to exercise that right to lawfully purchase and acquire firearms during times of emergency”

Shutting down the lawful firearms industry during a national pandemic is actually an efficient way to weaken trust in local authorities, harming their ability to effectively respond to the outbreak of the virus.