A new “Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” that recognizes workers in the firearms industry from manufacturers down to gun range operators as “essential” during the COVID-19 crisis has been released by the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security.
This comes after governors in at least two states have been hit with federal lawsuits challenging their shutdowns of gun shops and ranges, and more threatened action by a coalition of Second Amendment organizations.
The governors of California and New Jersey have been sued, along with two sheriffs, one in California and the other in North Carolina. Delaware’s administration backed down after being threatened with a similar federal complaint, and more legal action is pending, according to the head of the Second Amendment Foundation, which has been involved in the legal actions. Organizations involved in various lawsuits includes the National Rifle Association, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Grass Roots North Carolina, California Gun Rights Foundation, New Jersey Second Amendment Society.
Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Bellevue, Wash.-based Second Amendment Foundation, declared in a prepared statement, “Every freedom loving American owes President Donald Trump and his administration a very big thank you for protecting our Second Amendment rights. This is another Trump promise made and promise kept.”
The announcement came late Saturday afternoon, and has immediately raced across social media. Whether this has any impact on state executive orders that declared gun shops “non-essential” and therefore shut down remains to be seen. Gottlieb confirmed earlier this week to Conservative Firing Line that there are legal actions in the works. Saturday’s announcement may place everything on hold in order to give state and local officials time to react and perhaps change their orders.
“A lot of people have done incredible work…to make it happen,” Gottlieb said.
During the past week, lawsuits have been filed against New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, and Wake County, N.C. Sheriff Gerald M. Baker, over their orders to close gun shops in their respective jurisdictions.
Reaction so far from the firearms community has been unanimously positive. Whether gun stores in the affected states—including Washington, where Gov. Jay Inslee incredibly had declared marijuana shops to be “essential” but gun stores enjoyed no such designation—remains to be seen.
Washington and other parts of the country where there is much public land, have seen widespread cooperative shutdown decisions from local agencies. State parks and campgrounds, trailheads and other public lands have been closed. None of that is likely to change, but the designation of firearms-related businesses and their employees as “essential” could allow them to re-open.
The DHS memo offers guidance, not an order. As noted in the memorandum, “This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard. Additionally, this advisory list is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions. Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.”
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