March 30, 2020

“Essential” Designations for Firearms-Related Businesses

Contact: Brent Miller, Senior Director, Northeastern States & States Program Administrator

Over the weekend the Trump administration issued guidance through the Department of Homeland Security that firearms-related businesses should be allowed to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as governors across the nation have issued well-intentioned orders aimed at minimizing person-to-person contact to slow the spread of the disease, the treatment that these businesses receive varies greatly from state to state. Some states have deemed Federal Firearms License’s (FFL) and firearms and ammunition manufacturers as “essential” businesses, and thus have exempted them from having to shutter their operations for the duration of the order. In other states, these businesses have been forced to close – depriving residents of their ability to exercise their Constitutionally protected right to bear arms at a time when more and more Americans are fully understanding the importance, and relevance of our 2nd Amendment in today’s society.  

Our friends at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the National Rifle Association, and others, have done a tremendous amount of work on this issue to encourage governors to deem these businesses essential when issuing orders. For a complete rundown of what restrictions are now in place for firearms-related businesses, we encourage you to view the current list on NSSF’s website, which is updated regularly as more information becomes available. 

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has also weighed into this issue and has engaged in conversations with several governors resulting in positive outcomes (most recently, New Hampshire, where Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Chris Sununu deemed firearms-related businesses essential in his order on Thursday, March 26). As well, leaders of state legislative sportsmen’s caucuses affiliated with the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses have voiced their concerns in states like New Jersey, where the NICS system was shut down entirely for a time. 

As each governor responds to the various changing conditions on a regular basis, CSF remains prepared to staunchly support and advance some of our nation’s most time-honored traditions. CSF commends the many governors who have kept sportsmen’s interests at heart during this pandemic and looks forward to working with their offices on additional ways to safeguard our heritage while simultaneously prioritizing public health and safety in the near future. 

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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