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DHS Advises States: Gun Industry Should Be Considered Essential

In states like Connecticut, Ohio and Illinois, businesses selling firearms are still open. Delta Arsenal in Wallingford, Connecticut, seen here in September 2019, is among those still open.
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In states like Connecticut, Ohio and Illinois, businesses selling firearms are still open. Delta Arsenal in Wallingford, Connecticut, seen here in September 2019, is among those still open. ⁠

Employees of gun stores and gun manufacturers should be seen as “essential” workers, according to a memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published on Saturday.

This is a developing story.

The memo from Christopher Krebs, director of DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, is intended to help local governments gauge which industries are critical to public health and safety in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. It suggests that a wide range of firearm-related employees should be viewed as essential, including “workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.”

Krbes stresses that the list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” employees does not compel states to change their definitions of essential industries.

“This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard,” Krebs writes. “Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.”

Governors of several states have closed gun shops and dealers as part of their orders shuttering “non-essential” businesses to the public in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, drawing the ire and legal firepower of gun rights groups. Other states, like Connecticut, Ohioand Illinois have explicitly included gun dealers in their lists of essential industries.

Gun stores, gun rights groups or gun enthusiasts in at least New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado and California have filed lawsuits challenging pandemic-related restrictions to the gun trade.

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