The COVID-19 Gun Debate

After multiple Governors across the nation closed gun stores amid the Covid-19 shutdowns, the NRA sued local county governments and Governors like Gavin Newsom (D-CA) and Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), lobbied to Congress, and eventually got the Trump administration to deem gun shops as essential businesses. At the same time, gun stores had record sales in March. In the past, the majority of Democrats were in favor of somewhat strict gun control laws and bans on automatic assault rifles; whereas the Right has always been in favor of lax gun control if any. During the time of the pandemic, the NRA has successfully infiltrated the White House by lobbying and influencing the Trump Administration to deem gun stores as essential. Will the executive branch continue to step in to aid pro-gun groups such as the NRA in getting rid of strict gun control restrictions and background checks?

Following the shutdowns that were set in place across the nation around March 16th, the nation went into panic mode. Stores were selling out of essential goods such as toilet paper and food, and many people were stocking up as if they were in preparation for the apocalypse. One major industry that witnessed a surge of sales was the gun market. Indeed, as of March 20th, the FBI reported conducting a record-breaking number of background checks for gun purchases. According to the National Review, It was the highest record background checks in a single month since 1998, and that was when the National Instant Criminal Background Check System was initially uploaded online. Most disturbingly, Asian-Americans are stocking up amid fears of hate crimes due to racial stereotypes surrounding the coronavirus outbreak due to the fact that it originated in China. Many viral videos are now being uploaded online which portrays violence against Asian-Americans. Panic and tension across the nation are definitely building up because of the pandemic.

Source: National Review

For those on the Right, according to the NRA, gun store closures are a violation of our Second Amendment constitutional rights. In fact, this is the essence of their argument in the lawsuit the NRA has filed against state Government officials such as California Governor Gavin Newsom. In the suit, the plaintiffs allege that the pandemic has created a need for more protection. In the lawsuit, the NRA explicitly claims that “the need for enhanced safety during uncertain times is precisely when Plaintiffs and their members must be able to exercise their fundamental rights to keep and bear arms.” Amid the uncertain times, where people are losing their jobs and livelihood, there is definitely a possibility of danger among the people. As evidenced by the record number of unemployment claims, people are in financially devastating times. If the situation worsens, people may go to extreme lengths to survive.

However, for the majority of people on the Left, they do not believe that guns aids in ensuring the safety of the people. In fact, many liberal-leaning groups believe that guns are a major cause of deaths and violence in the United States and around the world. According to ABC news, most Democratic officials in the House and Senate as of 2020 are in favor of some form of gun control. Virtually every Democratic official goes as far as to advocate for total bans on automatic assault rifles. In response to the NRA lawsuits, some officials showed dismissive attitudes, especially New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who in response to the NRA lawsuit said: “I think I’ve been sued by the NRA — must be a dozen times. I didn’t even know I was sued this time. You become sort of lawsuit immune,” he said. “I wish you could become immune to this virus the way I’ve become immune to NRA lawsuits.” On the left, guns and the NRA are not symbols of safety. In fact, in September of last year, the City and County of San Francisco labeled the NRA a terrorist organization, which definitely is not a sign of safety. 

In uncertain and dangerous times many people are turning to guns to ensure the safety of their homes and families. Gun control has been a heated and debated topic for decades in U.S. politics. And now, amid the panic, the NRA has successfully influenced the Executive Branch to enforce loose restrictions or remove restrictions altogether of gun control policies. Most recently, with their lawsuits against blue state Governors such as Governor Newsom and Andrew Cuomo, they have successfully deemed gun stores, gun ranges, and other gun-related stores as essential businesses and allowed them to re-open amid the pandemic lockdowns on non-essential businesses. With a record number of background checks for gun sales, there is no doubt that guns are in demand more than ever due to the Covid-19 pandemic. And, as evidenced by the lockdown protests, many citizens fear that the government is slowly placing restrictive measures like shutdowns and gun-store closures to eventually take our liberties altogether. With the NRA suing state governments and governors and lobbying to Congress and the Trump Administration with millions of dollars,  gun control measures could be eliminated completely. Will the NRA continue to sue governments and exert influence on the political sector during the Covid-19 crisis? Will the mandates they lobby into effect outlast the pandemic?

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