In a reversal of his previous stance on the issue, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Monday that gun stores will be considered essential and allowed to reopen in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor issued an executive order on March 21 requiring all nonessential businesses to close until the pandemic emergency is over. Gun stories were initially not included on the list of New Jersey’s essential businesses, sparking lawsuits from at least three gun rights organizations.
Murphy dubbed gun dealers as essential after a Department of Homeland Security advisory over the weekend called them “critical infrastructure.”
“In accordance with the guidance released over the weekend by the federal Department of Homeland Security , we will allow firearms sellers to operate,” Murphy said during a Monday briefing, adding that sales must be done “by appointment only and under limited hours.”
“It wouldn’t have been my definition, but that’s the definition at the federal level. I didn’t get a vote on that,” he added.
Gun rights groups argue that gun dealers, which have seen an increase in sales during the coronavirus pandemic, are essential since they sell firearms and ammunition to law enforcement.
“I respect the Second Amendment,” Murphy said last week amid uproar from gun rights advocates arguing that closing gun stories amounts to flouting the Second Amendment. “I have gotten not one complaint from anybody that they were trying to buy a gun and they couldn’t.”
Gun sales will be allowed to resume in New Jersey on Tuesday.