NRA stokes COVID-19 fears in lawsuit against California

Second Amendment

The NRA has openly stoked fears about the coronavirus in a bid to drum up gun sales. But the pandemic has forced the cash-strapped group to scrap additional upcoming events, according to an internal memo obtained by Newsweek.

The right to buy weapons and ammunition during the coronavirus pandemic has become a major rallying point with the NRA, particularly after Governor Newsom declared that gun stores were nonessential and must close during the state’s shelter-in-place order amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The NRA and other gun groups filed a lawsuit against Governor Newsom and the state of California on Friday after Newsom said each of the state’s 58 counties could decide for themselves whether to list firearms dealers as nonessential businesses that should be subject to closure while the state seeks to limit the spread of the virus, according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit claims that the designation violates the Second Amendment, but officials cite a public health issue. “Municipalities who target lawful gun stores for closure aren’t promoting safety—by weaponizing their politics to disarm you and your loved ones, these shameless partisans are recklessly promoting a gun-control agenda that suffocates your self-defense rights when you need them most,” Jason Ouimet, the executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement.

“NRA members recognize this unlawful power-grabs for what they are, and the National Rifle Association is proud to stand and fight alongside fellow Second Amendment groups who recognize it, as well,” he said.

The gun violence prevention group – Brady – said the NRA’s lawsuit is misguided, adding that the organization cares more about profits than public health.

“In this time when we all need to sacrifice to flatten the curve and stop this pandemic, it is disturbing that the NRA won’t budge from its overriding purpose — to increase gun industry profits at any cost,” Brady President Kris Brown said, according to CNN. “There is no constitutional right to spread coronavirus while shopping, for guns or anything else.”

Last week, firearms advocates were cheering the Trump administration’s designation of the firearms industry, including retailers, as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure during the coronavirus emergency. The designation by the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is only an advisory.

The firearms industry was not part of the agency’s original list, published on March 20. An updated list was published on Friday following the announcement of the lawsuit against California. It should be noted that the advisory does not override determinations by individual jurisdictions of what they consider critical infrastructure sectors.

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