Good morning, Bulletin readers. Despite taking a financial hit from the coronavirus crisis, the NRA has a new TV partner whose hosts have downplayed the risk the disease poses to Americans. And one more state is backtracking on whether gun stores are “essential businesses” after the Trump administration issued guidance that they were.
Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
The NRA’s new media partner regularly features coronavirus doubters. The pandemic is very real to the National Rifle Association: It’s prompted widespread layoffs and the cancellation of the gun group’s annual convention. At the same time, the NRA is partnering with the conservative media outlet BlazeTV, whose hosts have repeatedly questioned the gravity of the threat posed by COVID-19. In announcing the deal earlier this month, the NRA’s membership director told members the move would bring “up-to-date and honest information about the issues that will come to shape our nation in the years to come.” Will Van Sant has that story.
Another state backtracks on closing gun stores. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s decision to allow firearm retailers to remain open came after the Department of Homeland Security added the gun industry to its list of “critical infrastructure.” While the federal guidelines are nonbinding, Murphy cited them, “It wouldn’t be my definition but that’s the definition at the federal level and I didn’t get a vote on that.” Under the revised order, gun stores may operate under limited hours and by appointment only. The state background check system — which authorities shut down last week, effectively halting gun sales — will be back online this morning, Champe Barton has learned. The Democratic governors of Pennsylvania and Delaware made similar reversals last week. Reminder: We’re tracking how coronavirus shutdowns are affecting gun stores in every state.
Despite stay-at-home orders, major cities recorded a rash of weekend shootings. In Philadelphia, at least five people were killed in shootings between Friday afternoon and Monday morning. In Chicago, two teenagers were killed and 18 others were wounded over the weekend. Both Pennsylvania and Illinois are under coronavirus-related shutdown orders.
Armed “vigilantes” attempt to forcibly quarantine out-of-state residents. A man in the Maine town of Vinalhaven said a group of gun-toting neighbors chopped down a tree on Friday to keep him and his roommates from leaving the home they were renting over fears they could have coronavirus. “Now is not the time to develop or encourage an ‘us vs. them’ mentality,” wrote a Maine state lawmaker who said the men were targeted because they were from New Jersey.
Gun-rights activists sue North Carolina sheriff who halted pistol permits. The Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition, and Grass Roots North Carolina filed a federal lawsuit against the Wake County sheriff who stopped issuing handgun and concealed carry permits to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Leading up to the order, the county saw a 250 percent increase in applications.
93 — the number of homicides in Philadelphia so far this year, a 21 percent increase compared to the same time last year. — The Associated Press