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PA & NJ Governors: Gun Stores are Non-Essential

By: José Niño

The Wuhan virus pandemic is far from over, as cases continue to pile up across America. Another victim of this viral outbreak has been the Second Amendment.

Pennsylvania and New Jersey have witnessed their respective governors issue executive orders that closed down all “non-essential” businesses. We’re living in a time when a significant portion of the population and their elected officials believe the Second Amendment is a relic of the past. So, they’ve been thrilled by the latest panic emerging from the pandemic to wield unconstitutional powers and trample on the Second Amendment.

Last week, as GPM reported, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf enacted an executive order that forced all “non-life-sustaining” businesses to close up shop. Curiously, the “hunting and trapping” industries have exemptions from this order. Nevertheless, the lack of clarity prompted elected officials and organizations to act against the executive order. State Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) teamed up with other representatives to challenge this order. Lewis published a letter requesting that Wolf revoke his order mandating the closure of small businesses across Pennsylvania. Similarly, the Civil Rights Defense Firm stood up for a firearms dealer and a Pennsylvanian who sought to buy a firearm by filing an emergency application for extraordinary relief on their behalf. They argue the governor’s order infringes on the Second Amendment.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, however, struck down this application, much to the Second Amendment supporters’ dismay. In a terse statement, the Court declared “In all other respects, the Application is DENIED.”

Neighboring New Jersey — a state with a putrid ranking of 49th place for “best states for gun owners,” according to Guns & Ammo — witnessed its own form of anti-gun executive action. Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order last week, forcing the closure of “non-essential” retail businesses. That same day, the New Jersey National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the only service that processes background checks for firearms dealers, informed stores they were no longer conducting requests. This came around a time when firearms were selling like hotcakes in the Garden State. The order does not specifically categorize gun dealers as a non-essential business. That said, it doesn’t have them on the list of essential businesses, such as liquor stores, office supply shops, and grocery stores.

“Per Executive Order 107, (Murphy) is ordering the residents of New Jersey to stay home, directing all non-essential retail businesses closed to the public,” says the notice on the online system. “At this time, the order includes New Jersey Firearms State Licensed Dealers.”

New Jersey gun owners and Second Amendment advocates criticized Murphy’s policies towards gun dealers.

“Gov. Murphy surrounds himself with armed guards,” said Alexander Roubian, the president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society. “Clearly he understands the benefit of the Second Amendment. Why is his life more valuable?”

Gun owners are correct to take issue with the failure to label gun dealers as “essential” businesses. The Constitution is explicit that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. There is no expiration date nor asterisks on this right. If anything, times of emergency require an armed populace to promote public order, especially when cases of looting and spurts of criminal violence arise. With how politicized police departments have become these days, law-abiding citizens can’t even rely on law enforcement to provide the most basic of security services. When it’s all said and done, the Second Amendment is the best insurance policy when our politics go haywire.

If government agencies must infringe on the Second Amendment, they have signaled to the citizenry that they, themselves, are “non-essential” and should be shut down for consistency’s sake.

José Niño is a Venezuelan American freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at joseinpolitics@gmail.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.