New York is trampling on Second Amendment rights by shuttering gun stores during the coronavirus pandemic, the National Rifle Association says in a new lawsuit.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to label gun shops “non-essential” businesses has made it virtually impossible for New Yorkers to legally buy a firearm in the state, the gun-rights argued in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday. The suit asks the court to declare gun stores essential businesses that can operate during the virus crisis.
“The current public health emergency does not justify the complete elimination of this right [to bear arms], especially during a time when many New Yorkers have valid concerns about their physical safety and welfare,” William A. Brewer III, a lawyer for the NRA, said in a statement.
Cuomo issued an executive order March 20 forcing non-essential businesses to close to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Gun stores are not on the list of “essential” establishments, which include grocery stores, pharmacies and carry-out restaurants.
The NRA said New York’s stance differs from that of the Trump administration, which included workers supporting gun retailers and manufacturers on a list of “critical infrastructure” released last week. That guidance led New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to allow his state’s gun retailers to operate by appointment only.
New York Attorney General Letitia James vowed to defend the state against the NRA’s lawsuit. The group has brought similar complaints in California.
“Everyone, including the NRA, must follow the law and all executive orders of New York,” James tweeted.