NRA Sues California Officials Over Forced Gun Store Closures During Coronavirus Outbreak

'The circumstances posed by the Novel Coronavirus ('COVID-19') outbreak are noteworthy, but do not excuse unlawful government infringements upon freedom,' says the lawsuit.

merchandise at a gun store
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

'The circumstances posed by the Novel Coronavirus ('COVID-19') outbreak are noteworthy, but do not excuse unlawful government infringements upon freedom,' says the lawsuit.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has sued California Governor Gavin Newsom and other state officials over the state’s orders to close gun stores during the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reports. The group claims that Californians’ 2nd Amendment rights shouldn’t be curtailed just because of a public health problem.

Newsom is joined by multiple other governors across the country, such as Illinois’ J.B. Pritzker, who have ordered all “non-essential” businesses to shut down. The details vary from state to state, but in California, that means that pharmacies, grocery stores, and similar businesses are allowed to remain open while gun stores are not.

The NRA, in a lawsuit filed this week, claims that the coronavirus pandemic isn’t a good enough reason to close gun stores.

“The circumstances posed by the Novel Coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) outbreak are noteworthy, but do not excuse unlawful government infringements upon freedom,” the lawsuit says.

Further, the suit notes that during these uncertain times, many Californians are concerned about their personal safety; for this reason, the right to keep and bear arms, as laid out by the 2nd Amendment, shouldn’t be curtailed at this time by forced store closures.

LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 14: The Gun Store rangemaster Heu Thao shows a customer a shotgun November 14, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Store manager Cliff Wilson said he's seen a large spike in sales since Barack Obama was elected president on November 4, with customers citing fears about the president-elect's record on firearms. The election, combined with a slumping economy, has contributed to an overall increase of 25-30 percent in gun sales at the store, Wilson said. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
  Ethan Miller / Getty Images

The suit was filed jointly by the NRA, as well as a Los Angeles-area gun retailer and other gun-owner groups. Named in the lawsuit, in addition to Newsom, are California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Villanueva had been personally responsible for seeing to it that gun stores remained closed, at least, in one California jurisdiction. This week, he announced that his deputies would be making sure than gun stores in the county stayed closed.

“I have instructed my deputies to enforce closures of businesses which have disregarded the governor’s order (gun stores, strip clubs, and other non-designated businesses),” he said at the time.

Kris Brown, president of the gun violence-prevention group The Brady Campaign, says that the NRA is concerned only with protecting the profits of gun manufacturers and retailers, and nothing else.

“There is no constitutional right to spread coronavirus while shopping, for guns or anything else,” Brown says.

It seems as if the coronavirus pandemic has spurned some Americans to look to purchasing guns. For example, In the St. Louis area, as the city’s Post-Dispatch reports, sales of guns and ammunition in the region have soared since the coronavirus pandemic broke.

Residents of St. Louis County are currently under a stay-at-home order, but store owner Mark Campbell said that he’s not sure how that rule applies to his business.