Caving to Gun Lobby Pressure, The Trump Administration Issued Guidance on Saturday Night Recommending that Gun Manufacturers, Dealers, Importers, Distributors and Shooting Ranges be Deemed Essential During the Coronavirus Pandemic––Putting Gun Shops on Same Level as Police Departments, Hospitals, and Grocery Stores
While NRA Board Members Have Used the Pandemic to Further Racist Narratives, Spread Conspiracy Theories, and Dismiss the Seriousness of Coronavirus, the NRA has Been Fear Mongering to Sell Guns.
NEW YORK — Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, a part of Everytown, responded to the Trump administration’s guidance updating the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list to include “workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges” as “essential” during the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration listed these workers in the “law enforcement, public safety, and other first responders” section of the guidance, right next to first responders, medical workers, 911 call center employees, and more.
“The Trump administration’s decision to give special treatment to gun stores will benefit only the gun industry, while putting many more at risk of illness and gun violence,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “It’s shameful and nonsensical that the Trump administration has decided to put gun dealers and manufacturers on the same level as police, first responders, hospital workers, and other Americans who are risking everything to save lives during this pandemic. Governors should feel free to ignore this irresponsible advisory and do what’s best for their residents.”
“While healthcare workers, lawmakers, and critical employees fight to save lives across America, the Trump administration is putting lives at risk by caving to the gun lobby during this crisis,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “The gun lobby has fear-mongered to stoke gun sales throughout this pandemic, pedaling the lie that more guns make us safer. The Trump administration just gave that myth its seal of approval, proving once again that President Trump cares more about lining gun dealers’ pockets than saving American lives.”
“The gun lobby is arguing that closures infringe upon their second amendment rights, but the Constitution doesn’t require gun stores to be singled out for special treatment during a public health crisis,” said Eric Tirschwell, managing director of Everytown Law. “These types of orders also close down libraries, political rallies, and marriage license bureaus—all of which burdens constitutional rights. But because they are neutral, generally-applicable laws passed with the objective to protect public health, and not to undermine rights, they are constitutional.”
The Trump administration’s guidance adding the gun industry to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce advisory list, which is “advisory in nature” and “is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard,” comes after intense lobbying from the gun industry, including the NRA. The decision is a handout to a struggling industry, which has seen a rise in sales and stock prices during the coronavirus pandemic after struggling immensely in a “Trump slump” since 2016. In addition to this lobbying, the NRA sued multiple California officials in federal court on Friday over the closure of gun stores due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NRA’s New Jersey affiliate filed a similar suit in NJ.
While Americans have sheltered in place to flatten the curve of coronavirus, the NRA has been fear mongering throughout the pandemic to sow division, raise money, and sell guns. Last Friday, for example, the NRA released a video urging Americans to buy guns to protect themselves during the coronavirus pandemic, saying, “You might be stockpiling up on food right now to get through this current crisis. But if you aren’t preparing to defend your property when everything goes wrong, you’re really just stockpiling for somebody else.” NRA board members have also called Hawaii’s response to the pandemic “a sign of the apocalypse” and warned that “it appears the federal government is readying… use of the military for domestic law enforcement purposes.”
The gun lobby’s implicit argument that buying guns is the only way to stay safe during this crisis is patently false. In fact, statistics show the truth is just the opposite:
- Domestic Violence: Experts are concerned about domestic violence during the pandemic, and women are five times more likely to be shot and killed by an abusive partner when a gun is present during an incident of domestic violence;
- Suicide risk: Experts are concerned about increased suicide risk during the pandemic, and access to a gun triples the risk of death by suicide;
- Unintentional shootings: Unintentional shootings like the recent tragedy in New Mexico in which a 13-year-old allegedly unintentionally shot and killed his own cousin are more likely in a time when Americans are staying home and gun sales are reportedly on the rise. In fact, nearly 77 percent of unintentional shootings by children take place inside the home.
- More guns don’t mean more safety: If more guns made Americans safe, then we’d be the safest nation in the world––but America’s homicide rate is 25 times than that of other high-income countries.
The NRA has canceled its convention and laid off employees due to coronavirus, but NRA associates have nonetheless dismissed the seriousness of the virus, furthered the racist “chinese virus” narrative, and spread conspiracies.