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
Yesterday, Everytown, Moms Demand Action, and Student Demands Action Responded
NEW YORK — Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, a part of Everytown, responded in a press call yesterday 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.
Yesterday’s press call featured John Feinblatt, Shannon Watts, and Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. After the call, Everytown sent a letter to DHS opposing the administration’s decision to deem gun dealers “essential” during the pandemic.
“Keeping gun stores open in this crisis won’t make anyone safer, but it will make the gun lobby richer,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Public health officials should be able to do what’s necessary to keep communities safe without the gun lobby putting its thumb on the scale. With a gun homicide rate 25 times the average of other developed nations, we need to address our gun violence crisis at the same time we fight the coronavirus pandemic. We simply cannot afford for our government to kowtow to the gun lobby.”
“There’s no reason why gun dealers should be deemed as essential as police, first responders, and hospital workers––people who are risking everything to save lives,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. While there is much we don’t know about COVID-19, this much is clear: guns don’t make you safer from it. Because despite what the NRA would like you to believe, you can’t shoot a virus.”
“What can we do during this time to keep women safe?” said Ruth Glenn, CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “We can reject the NRA’s irresponsible fear mongering, which sells the false promise that the only way to protect yourself during this time is to buy a gun. We can condemn the Trump administration’s special treatment of the gun lobby, which prioritizes gun dealers’ bottom lines over the safety of women across America. And we can keep the focus where it should be –– on efforts that will actually make American families safer, like promoting responsible gun storage practices, urging states to give background check agencies the time they need to complete every check, and pointing women to the domestic violence resources they need to stay safe.”
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.