UPDATE: We are continuing to monitor the situation and will update as clarification is made regarding the impact of the ‘Stay at Home Order’ on firearm retailers. If you have any information about Gun stores closing or work at a gun store please tell us about it in the comments– we would love to follow up with you!
During the COVID-19 Pandemic–amid nationwide state by state shutdowns the question has persisted of whether or not a Firearms and Ammo store is an essential business. Officials in Los Angeles County California have gone back and forth on whether gun stores should be shuttered or not. The Sheriff of Los Angeles County initially shut them down.
When a suggested classification was put forth by the department of homeland security as to what businesses were essential, the department listed: “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.” This fell under the Law Enforcement heading on the website put forth by DHS CISA called “Guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce.”
Seemingly, this resolved the question of whether or not Firearms and Ammo Retail stores were essential. However, according to an article by the LA Times, the case (brought by suit from the NRA) has now made it to a district judge who on April 6th ruled that LA county can shut down gun stores.
In Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an extension to the Stay At Home order on Thursday, April 9th, 2020, which seemed to further restrict activities residents could engage in and businesses that could remain open. Conspicuously missing from the new order (the full text of which can be found here) is any direct mention of Firearm manufacturers or retailers.
There has been confusion statewide on the question of whether the Government was ordering Firearm Retailers to shut down. Initially, many gun stores did close, but reopened as the Department of Homeland Security released their updated guidance on essential business. Some have remained closed.
The text of the new Stay at Home order appears to be an exhaustive list that does not leave anything open to interpretation. In fact, on page 4 of the Order, the document specifically mentions, “For purposes of this order, critical infrastructure workers are those workers described by the Director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in his guidance of March 19, 2020, on the COVID-19 response.”
So, while the new stay at home order does not specifically mention the Gun and Ammunition stores they defer to the Department of Homeland Security for the designations of businesses and workers essential for critical infrastructure. The Department of Homeland Security has specifically mentioned Gun stores as a business that should remain open.
Since outdoor activities such as Hunting are still permitted under the new order–and the gun stores are allowed to stay open you should have no problem picking up that box of Shells for your turkey hunt in a week or so.