The Second Amendment Foundation, which filed a federal lawsuit against New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy earlier in the week alleging depravation of rights under color of law indicated in a news release late Tuesday it is also “working on lawsuits against Washington, Massachusetts and jurisdictions in California and North Carolina, among others.”
According to SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, these legal actions are fallout from gun restrictions that are part of “executive orders” related to the ongoing COVID-19 panic. The New Jersey case challenges Murphy’s decision to close gun stores, and the State Police shutdown of its background check portal on the agency’s website shortly after Murphy announced his statewide shut down.
In Washington, a legal action might challenge Gov. Jay Inslee’s “stay home, stay safe” order, which does not mention gun shops on the list of “essential” business operations. Incredibly, Inslee’s order does allow marijuana shops to remain open.
Local police agencies in Washington are also declining new concealed pistol license applications because they require fingerprinting. Many law enforcement agencies in the state aren’t taking or processing fingerprinting. All of these measures might collide with the state constitution’s right-to-bear-arms provision (Article 1, Section 24).
SAF’s revelation came in a prepared statement applauding Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s change of heart regarding classification of gun shops as a recognized “life sustaining business” in the state. Wolf’s initial order did not include gun shops and there was a lawsuit, which was decided in Wolf’s favor. However, he evidently changed his mind.
“Gov. Wolf’s change of heart is a welcome display of good sense and constitutional adherence,” Gottlieb said. “Perhaps some other state governors could take a lesson from Wolf as they issue so-called ‘stay-at-home’ orders. SAF currently has a federal lawsuit against New Jersey, and we are working on lawsuits against Washington, Massachusetts and jurisdictions in California and North Carolina, among others.”
Several days ago, SAF also applauded Illinois Gov. B.J. Pritzker for getting it right from the start, declaring firearms and ammunition distributors and retailers necessary “for purposes of safety and security.”
One California jurisdiction that could be in trouble is Los Angeles County, where Sheriff Alex Villanueva has ordered gun shops to close.
“Those who think suspending a constitutional right is acceptable because a virus is a health threat are truly mixing the proverbial apples and oranges to suit their own agendas,” Gottlieb observed.
The “pandemic panic” has sparked a sharp upswing in gun and ammunition sales in many parts of the country. This has resulted in a cold splash of reality for many first-time gun buyers now discovering that restrictive gun control laws adopted in the past several years make it much harder for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
“We are witnessing what amounts to an epiphany for many Americans during this crisis, as they remember what the Second Amendment is about,” Gottlieb said.