Gun groups seek ‘essential’ designation during coronavirus crisis

by WorldTribune Staff, March 22, 2020

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the gun industry is lobbying to be included as “critical infrastructure” by the federal government, a designation that would allow stores and manufacturing plants to stay open and supplied.

The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) told the NSSF that background check traffic saw a 300 percent increase on March 16 compared to the same day in 2019. Daily volumes are roughly double what they were a year ago. / Twitter

Citing the supply needs of the police and military, and self-defense by the public, the industry trade group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), said it is lobbying officials for the firearms industry to be included as part of the “defense industrial base” and “emergency services sector,” part of the nation’s 16 critical infrastructures. The NSSF represents 9,000 companies and retailers.

In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, NSSF Senior Vice President Lawrence G. Keane wrote: “Whether it is providing firearms or ammunition to military, law enforcement, and law-abiding citizens or ensuring that they have access to shooting ranges for training, the firearm industry is a critical component of our nation’s security, public safety, and economic well-being. We must remain open for business. By including our industry among our nation’s critical infrastructure industries, you can help ensure that we are able to do so.”

During the coronavirus outbreak, gun stores have cited record sales of weapons and ammunition.

The Firearms Policy Coalition said that ammo sales had risen by nearly 300 percent and the FBI background check system has been slowed by a huge wave of gun purchase applications as guns are “flying off the shelves.”

Keane said the firearms industry is concerned that in reacting to the coronavirus, some states or localities may close gun stores, ranges, and manufacturing plants by designating them “non-essential.”

“We cannot expect law enforcement to do its job of serving, protecting, and defending our communities without making sure they have access to the tools they need and which our industry provides,” Keane said.

And the public deserve the right to protect themselves, Keane added: “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. The firearm and ammunition industry is essential for law-abiding Americans to exercise their Second Amendment right to acquire a firearm and ammunition for personal protection and home defense.”

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