Kris Brown, president of Brady, a group which supports increased firearms restrictions, said she fears governors will abide by the guidelines because of Trump’s threats to withhold aid from states that don’t support him, as well as worries they will be sued.
“There is no way politics isn’t playing a role in this,” Brown said. “I think the reality of going against this simply from a political standpoint would be calculated differently when you know the surge may hit you.”
The White House didn’t respond to questions about the decision.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, states and localities have issued their own orders about whether to close gun stores and shooting ranges, leading gun rights groups to file lawsuits and lobby the Trump administration.
Pennsylvania, for example, allowed gun shops to be open for business while Washington state shut them. In California, where it’s up to localities to decide, the Los Angeles County sheriff has ordered them to close. About half of the states based their order on the federal guidelines, according to the federal government.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents retailers, manufacturers and distributors, led the push for new guidance, speaking directly to outgoing acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and incoming chief of staff Mark Meadows, as well as the office of Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the White House Coronavirus Task Force, according to a person familiar with the outreach. The organization also spoke to Mulvaney counselor Michael Williams, a former law clerk for the NRA’s lobbying arm who later served as general counsel for the American Suppressor Association, an industry group pushing to ease restrictions on suppressors — more commonly known as silencers.
The group began lobbying about two weeks ago, making calls and writing letters to the Department of Homeland Security, which issued the guidelines, as well as to governors, counties, cities and mayors. Their argument: The industry supplies the military and law enforcement agencies, and Americans have the right to protect themselves.
“Food, water, shelter and adequate medical care are paramount for survival, but so too is the ability for an individual to defend his or herself, their family, as well as their home, business and property,” Keane wrote in a March 20 letter to DHS.
In recent days, Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, and Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America, also reached out to the administration through emails and calls. They alerted their supporters to do the same.
Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, said gun supporters were angered when Trump suggested Rep. Thomas Massie, (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Second Amendment Caucus, should be thrown out of the Republican Party after he delayed the House vote on the recovery bill last week.
Brown, who notified his 6.5 million members on Facebook about the saga over the guidelines, said the revision will help Trump with his supporters.