Gun Stores Can Re-Open In Pennsylvania, With Limitations

( – Just one day after forcing all gun stores in Pennsylvania to close, Governor Tom Wolf has reversed course.

Now, the Democratic governor says that gun stores can reopen, but “to complete only the portions of a sale/transfer that must be conducted in-person under the law.” This is most likely referring to a background check, which has to be done in person under state law.

Wolf originally issued an order to close all gun stores as part of his response to the coronavirus pandemic. But he received quick backlash for the move, especially as gun sales and the demand for guns and ammunition are soaring across the country. This is especially true in places such as Philadelphia, where local police have said they will halt arresting people for certain crimes during the pandemic.

Wolf’s new order says gun stores can operate on an “individual appointment” basis “during limited hours.” Business owners also have to “comply with social distancing, sanitization of applicable area between appointments, and other mitigation measures to protect its employees and the public.”

While the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied to take action and block the legislation following Second Amendment activists calling for it, Wolf nevertheless followed suit of the three dissenting justices in the case.

One of those voices, Justice David Wecht, said Wolf’s original order closing gun stores was an “impermissible intrusion upon a fundamental constitutional right.”

Those fighting against Wolf’s original order said they were happy with his latest decision, but they would still review the language of the newest order to see if further action was necessary.

“We are happy to see that it appears the governor has taken people’s access to arms seriously and has provided a manner in which they can still obtain them during this unprecedented time,” said Adam Kraut, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case. Kraut is also the director of legal strategy for the Firearms Policy Coalition.

At present, there is really no national consensus on whether gun stores fit into the category of “essential businesses” that have been allowed to continue operating during some states’ shutdown orders. In neighboring New Jersey, for example, Democratic Governor Phil Murphy banned gun stores from opening and also shut down the background check system in the state.

The New Jersey Second Amendment Society along with the Second Amendment Foundation have filed a lawsuit in federal court over this decision, as it has basically banned all gun sales in the state.

As Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, wrote in a statement:

“In order for New Jersey residents to purchase firearms, they must go through a licensed firearms retailer and pass a background check. However, Murphy’s order was subsequently followed by a notice posted on the State Police website that the agency is no longer conducting background checks. Gov. Murphy cannot simply suspend the Second Amendment.”

National groups such as the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation have also threatened filing lawsuits over the closure of gun stores in states throughout the country.