BREAKING: NRA sues Newsom for designating gun stores non-essential

The NRA is firing back after California chose to deem gun stores non-essential amid the coronavirus crisis.

Per Axios, the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom and state officials on Friday after gun stores were deemed non-essential and required to close for the state’s stay-at-home order amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Both Second Amendment advocates and gun control backers argue that shutting federally licensed firearms dealers could push buyers to purchase guns online or through private sales without background checks, per AP.

Yes, but: Gun control advocates are also concerned about a possible uptick in new owners who don’t have access to training and don’t understand how to store their weapons as multiple states issue stay-at-home orders.

The other side: Michael Cargill, owner of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, told AP, “When there’s a national emergency, people are looking for food, water, shelter — that part is important to the survival of our nation. They are also looking for the Second Amendment to protect their families.”

TCO reported Saturday the DHS has included gun manufacturers, retailers and gun ranges in their list of essential businesses.

According to the new “GUIDANCE ON THE ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKFORCE” essential businesses list:

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.

Per FreeBeacon, the change comes after some state and local officials have shut down gun stores and manufacturing plants around the country. The federal guidelines could influence how state and local officials implement lockdown orders moving forward. Demand for firearms has skyrocketed in response to the uncertainty surrounding the global pandemic, even as shutdowns in some states have closed the only legal avenue for purchases. Some officials cited the lack of DHS guidance to defend those closures.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry’s trade group, requested the essential designation in a March 20th letter to DHS. The group praised the updated DHS guidance as “crucial.”

“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,” Lawrence Keane, general counsel for the group, said in a statement. “Americans must not be denied the ability to exercise that right to lawfully purchase and acquire firearms during times of emergency.”

While DHS cautioned that the guide is not binding on states, it is the federal government’s official recommendation for how they should respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“This list is intended to help State, local, tribal and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security,” Christopher C. Krebs, director of CISA, wrote in a March 28 memo.