In the face of the covid-19 outbreak in the United States, there’s been quite a bit of discussion about what services are indeed considered essential, and therefore able to remain open and operational during the various stages of a shutdown. Bars and restaurants? Not so much. Abortion care? It depends on where you live. Gun shops? Crucial.
On Saturday, the Trump Administration, potentially operating under the assumption that the novel coronavirus will one day manifest into a physical form so large we will be able to shoot it, deemed the firearms industry, which includes gun shops, critical to combating the current coronavirus outbreak.
A federal list identifying “essential critical infrastructure workers” now includes, “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.” The bullet point (no pun intended) falls under a list identifying law enforcement, public safety, and other first responder personnel who have been classified as critical in the response to covid-19.
Prior to the list’s update, John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown for Gun Safety, had said, “Guns will not make Americans safer in the face of COVID-19. Gun stores do not deserve special treatment. In fact, a surge in gun sales will put many communities at greater risk if guns aren’t stored securely and if background checks aren’t completed.” That seems rational and correct, and so it makes total sense that the Trump administration would then choose to do the exact opposite.
In appears that, in addition to hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer, Americans are also hoarding guns and ammunition in response to covid-19. Gun sales in the United States have spiked since the coronavirus outbreak first began, and are likely to continue to grow now, uninterrupted, thanks to the Trump administration’s amendments to the list.
I do sometimes wish we could prioritize the right to something like, oh, I don’t know, healthcare during a public health emergency but, alas, guns win again.