Contact: Joe Mullin, New England States Senior Coordinator
On May 7, a Judge for the U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts brought some exciting, long-overdue news to Massachusetts’ sporting community, ordering a preliminary injunction to authorize firearms retailers to reopen their businesses on Saturday, May 9.
During the earlier stages of the Commonwealth’s response to COVID-19, gun shops were initially permitted to remain open and operational. However, this decision was suddenly and unexpectedly reverted on March 31, as firearms retailers were later instructed by the Commonwealth to close-down their brick and mortar operations indefinitely – all the while, other industries throughout Massachusetts were permitted to keep their doors open. A collective force of firearms owners and retailers brought suit against the Governor, asserting its Second Amendment rights, and making a claim against the disparate treatment of the firearms industry.
Co-Chairs of the bipartisan and bicameral Massachusetts Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus also engaged on this issue. Exactly one month prior to this decision, two Co-Chairs submitted a letter of consideration to the Governor, calling for him to include firearms retailers and shooting ranges within the list of essential businesses, thus permitting them to remain open during the ongoing pandemic. The letter highlighted the special treatment that is being provided in other exigent circumstances, such as extending deadlines for expired driver’s licenses and vehicle inspection stickers, and requested that the extensions are offered to firearms owners with expiring licenses. In similar fashion, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) reached out to each Governor’s office with a letter of consideration, encouraging them to continue offering opportunities for individuals to enjoy the outdoors in a responsible manner during the ongoing state of affairs.
Although the governor failed to take action on this issue, the decision made by the U.S. District Court Judge puts the treatment of gun shops in line with several other industries. Retailers will be limited in their hours of operation and customers per hour, but nonetheless, they may resume their business operations. CSF enthusiastically embraces the U.S. District Court’s decision and applauds all other individuals and organizations who continue to remain committed towards protecting and advancing the interests of sportsmen and women – not only during the current pandemic, but at all times.
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?