The National Rifle Association (NRA) has joined other gun rights groups in challenging COVID-19 control measures that ban the sale of firearms. In a federal lawsuit filed on Friday, the NRA argues that California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 19 business closure order, which Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has interpreted as covering gun dealers, violates the Second Amendment and the right to due process.
Villanueva’s interpretation is not only constitutionally questionable but seemingly untenable in light of new guidance from the federal Department of Homeland Security. In an advisory issued on Saturday, the department added firearm retailers to its definition of the “essential critical infrastructure workforce.” The order by Newsom (D) specifically exempted “federal critical infrastructure sectors.”
In California, the NRA’s complaint notes, “individuals are required to purchase and transfer firearms and ammunition through state and federally licensed dealers” so required background checks can be completed. Newsom’s order, as interpreted by Villanueva, therefore prevents Californians from lawfully acquiring firearms or ammunition until the edict is relaxed or rescinded. “Such a de facto prohibition on the right to keep and bear arms is categorically unconstitutional under the Second Amendment,” says the NRA, which was joined in the lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation, the Firearms Policy Coalition, the California Gun Rights Foundation, a Los Angeles County resident, and a Burbank gun dealer.
While “the circumstances posed by the [COVID-19] outbreak are noteworthy,” the complaint says, they “do not excuse unlawful government infringements upon freedom.” In fact, the