U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker got it right with Friday’s emergency order response to the spreading Coronavirus pandemic when he included firearms and ammunition suppliers and retailers on the list of “essential business operations” that will remain open, according to the Second Amendment Foundation.
Pritzker issued Executive Order 23020-10, which “directs all individuals living within the state of Illinois to stay at home, except for “Essential Activities, Essential Government Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses and Operations.” These include information technology equipment manufacturers and suppliers, hardware, food, cleaning supplies, and “firearm and ammunition suppliers and retailers for purposes of safety and security.”
SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb lauded Pritzker in a prepared statement, saying the governor “sets and example for others” to follow.
“When an anti-gun Democrat governor declares that essential businesses include firearm and ammunition suppliers and retailers for the purposes of safety and security, that is a really big deal,” Gottlieb said. “Every governor should copy the Illinois example when issuing ‘shelter-in-place’ and business closure orders in the face of the Coronavirus.”
Three other states—New York, California and Pennsylvania—have taken the extreme step of ordering the public to “shelter in place.” People need to stay home except for essential businesses.
In San Jose, Mayor Sam Liccardo declared gun stores are “non-essential.”
“We are having panic buying right now for food,” Liccardo said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. “The one thing we cannot have is panic buying of guns.”
San Jose police reportedly shut down the Bullseye Bishop gun store last week. The newspaper quoted painting contractor Joshua Wolfe, who was purchasing ammunition. He said the right to arm one’s self is essential.
One gun rights group, the California-based Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), filed a lawsuit asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to block Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf from including gun stores in his state’s shutdown. Wolf reportedly revised his order, but according to Spotlight PA, “sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores” must remain closed.
“Weapons and ammunition retailers are one of the most essential business types in the United States,” said FPC President Brandon Combs in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon. “There is no ‘except in emergencies’ clause in the Constitution and the government cannot shut down the people’s right to keep and bear arms.”
Gottlieb was also quoted by the newspaper, “Gun prohibitionists want to close down every gun store they can and will use any means necessary. They do not believe that the means for self-defense is essential or a protected constitutional right. Our legal team is monitoring the situation very closely.”
Gottlieb may wind up busy closer to home. The Bellingham, Wash., city council is currently considering an emergency ordinance—a draft of which was obtained by Ammoland News—that would allow the mayor or director of emergency services to issue an order “prohibiting the carrying or possession of firearms or any instrument which is capable of producing bodily harm and which is carried or possessed with the intent to use the same to cause such harm; provided that any such order shall not apply to peace officers or military personnel engaged in the performance of their official duties.”
Ammoland has learned that the city may “clean up” the ordinance’s language, which allegedly has been on the books since 1977 and thus would have been nullified by the state preemption statute. That remains to be seen.
Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood reacted to the concerns over the proposal and posted these remarks on his website:
“The proposed changes will allow us to be more responsive to emergency needs while retaining important checks and balances in place through Council oversight of Mayoral actions,” Mayor Fleetwood said.
“No action is being taken or proposed at this meeting that relates to banning guns, and any rumors about changes to firearms regulations, rumors about martial law, or rumors about closing city streets, are false.”
Such an order, were it ever enforced, would likely collide with Washington’s 35-year-old preemption statute that places sole authority for firearms regulation in the hands of the state legislature. It might also violate the state and federal constitutional right to bear arms provisions. Washington State’s constitution leaves no wiggle room, stating, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired…”
Gottlieb seemed to be making that point in his support of Gov. Pritzker’s emergency order.
“Depending upon how long this emergency continues,” Gottlieb stated, “many Americans may find themselves facing situations where they will need to be their own first responders. Gov. Pritzker obviously understands this, and we encourage the governors of all other states to recognize this isn’t an issue of party politics but of personal and community safety.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has not issued an emergency “shelter-in-place” order, instead imploring the public to essentially police themselves. This came after scores of people were filmed at a popular Seattle beach enjoying the sunshine, playing games and relaxing in close proximity to one another.
Gottlieb may have summed up the current situation best by noting, “We are all in this together, and we will make it through, together, as well. Stay safe, stay well and stay ready.”
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books #add on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.