Three governors face lawsuits over closures of gun stores and gun ranges during coronavirus crisis

Three governors, all Democrats, are facing lawsuits over their orders to shutter gun ranges and gun stores in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

New York-based firearms manufacturer and retailer, Dark Storm Industries, filed a Federal Civil Rights Complaint on Monday in U.S. District Court seeking a temporary restraining order and an emergency injunction against New York state to end the state’s forced closure of firearms retailers.

Dark Storm filed the complaint after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order mandated that non-essential businesses close down indefinitely and the state has determined that most firearms-related businesses as non-essential, except those who conduct business with law enforcement and the military. Those businesses have been prohibited by the state from conducting business with the general public.

“The declaration by New York State that firearms businesses are non-essential to the general public strikes a massive blow to the civil rights of New Yorkers. The right to defend one’s home and family, especially in times of public crisis is at the heart of the 2nd Amendment,” said Edward Newman, CoOwner of DSI in a statement.

“The actions of New York State, which amount to effectively, a complete prohibition on the purchase of guns and ammo by the general public are beyond chilling to our constitutional rights, they are a venerable ice age and cannot be tolerated,” Newman added.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League will file a lawsuit against Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for his state-wide “stay at home order” order last month to include the shuttering of indoor gun ranges as non-essential businesses.

Referencing an advisory issued by the Homeland Security Department on March 28 that classified the firearms industry — including gun ranges — as part of the country’s “critical infrastructure” during the coronavirus pandemic, VCDL President Philip Van Cleave wants the gun ranges to be removed from the list.

“People want to be able to protect themselves. Well, where can they go to learn how to use a gun safely? That would be an indoor shooting range, or an outdoor range, if they can find one,” Van Cleave, told the Associated Press.

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked a surge in firearms purchases across the country.

According to an FBI report, more than 3.7 million background checks for gun purchases were conducted by the bureau in the month of March, making it the highest number of background checks conducted in one month since the National Instant Criminal Background Check System was first launched in 1998.

Many people are buying firearms they may not know how to operate safely yet. “Retailers have been telling us that the overwhelming majority of those buying firearms over the last month have been first-time gun owners,” said Mark Oliva, Director of Public Affairs of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The National Rifle Association among other Second Amendment advocacy organizations filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials after gun stores were placed in the “non-essential” category of businesses mandated to close during the statewide stay-at-home order.

The suit was filed after Los Angeles Sheriff Villanueva announced last week that as a result of Newsom’s executive order, all gun and ammunition shops in Los Angeles County are not considered essential businesses and must close.

*story by The Washington Examiner