---NRA praises Gov. Lamont for allowing gun stores to remain open during coronavirus shutdown
Hartford Courant | Mar 25, 2020 | 6:23 PMhttps://www.courant.com/coronavirus/hc-news-coronavirus-nra-lamont-gun-stores-20200325-sriaeh4qyngxrg4cgjv7c2syii-story.html#nt=oft-Double%20Chain~Recommender~homepage-main-chain~breaking-recommender~~3~no-art~automated~curatedpage
As governors across the country put their states into lockdown and allow only essential businesses to remain open, they’re split on one question: Are gun stores essential?
In Connecticut, the answer is yes.
On Sunday, Gov. Ned Lamont released details on an executive order that, among many other things, classified gun stores as “essential” businesses and allowed them to remain open amid a coronavirus shutdown.
Lamont is not the only governor to let gun sellers keep doing business. The Courant reviewed the lockdown orders in 14 other states, and found that six have allowed gun and ammo retailers to stay open during lockdown. The list of states where gun stores are closed and not considered essential includes New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
While gun control activists have railed against Lamont’s decision, gun rights groups have lauded the move.
The day after Lamont released a detailed breakdown of essential businesses, including firearm retailers, the National Rifle Association praised him. When he ran for governor, the group had given Lamont an F rating.
“Your NRA would like to thank Gov. Lamont for upholding the right of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their loved ones,” said the NRA-ILA, which is the NRA’s legislative wing.
In response to the NRA’s statement, Lamont spokesperson Max Reiss pointed to the governor’s legislative record on gun control, particularly a bill banning ghost guns and another bill shoring up gun storage requirements, known as Ethan’s Law.
Lamont’s “policy record when it comes to gun safety has been consistent and unwavering,” Reiss said. Lamont “will always stand on the proper side of gun safety.”
The NRA’s statement praising Lamont also claimed that states that close gun stores “are using the pandemic as an excuse to strip Americans of their fundamental right of self-defense."
Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, raised the same concerns.
“It’s a constitutional right,” Sullivan said. “To limit somebody from the ability to [buy guns and ammo] right now is to limit their ability to protect themselves and their families."
But U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, speaking as a former attorney general, said there’s no constitutional violation in temporarily closing gun retailers.
“I see no constitutional issue here,” Blumenthal said. “The Second Amendment is the law of the land, but we’re not taking guns away from people, nor is there a permanent ban on gun sales.”
That theory has already been tested in Pennsylvania — where, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the state Supreme Court dismissed claims brought by gun rights’ advocates, who don’t want to see gun retailers close in that state.
Despite the court’s dismissal, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday allowed gun stores to reopen with limited hours and only through individual appointments, the Associated Press reported.
In other states, gun stores were never closed in the first place. The lockdowns in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Louisiana, West Virginia and Wisconsin all classify firearm retailers as “essential” business — and, with the exception of West Virginia, all of those states’ orders say verbatim that gun stores are necessary “for purposes of safety and security.”
Lamont’s order does not use that language.
Jeremy Stein, the executive director of CT Against Gun Violence, said he was surprised and concerned that Connecticut has not closed gun stores due to the pandemic.
“Panic-buying of firearms is not the solution we are looking for to get through this pandemic,” Stein said. “Guns will not keep us safer, but from what we know, guns only increase the risk of homicide, suicide, and accidental death.”
Stein warned that stockpiling firearms at a time when children are at home due to school closures also increases the risk of children dying by firearms. He added that due to the pandemic, rates of depression and suicide are likely to increase, as people are isolated through social distancing and depressed from job loss.
In response to Lamont’s shutdown order, the Newtown Action Alliance, which was formed in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, started a campaign to have gun stores removed from the list of essential businesses.