Good morning, Bulletin readers. The fear caused by that the coronavirus is creating conditions that the National Rifle Association is now openly exploiting. And the precautions the pandemic necessitates are subjecting the families of gun violence victims to additional hardships. Find those stories and more in your Monday roundup.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
The NRA uses coronavirus fears to promote gun ownership and push conspiracy theories. A new four-minute video from the group features a disabled woman of color wielding an assault-style weapon. She tells viewers, “You might be stockpiling up on food… to get through this current crisis, but if you aren’t preparing to defend yourself when everything goes wrong, you’re really just stockpiling for somebody else.” The video goes on to repeat the false claims (debunked here by The Trace) that New Orleans Police carried out widespread gun confiscation during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and predicts that gun seizures and restrictions will ensue during the current pandemic. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut called the video “sickening.” The NRA, along with conservative media outlets, have used his criticism to bring further attention to the ad.
They lost loved ones to a mass shooting. The viral outbreak means they have to mourn alone. After a gunman fatally shot four people at a Missouri gas station last weekend, the victims’ families have had to process their losses without the support of public vigils, memorial services, or hugs from visiting relatives. “What was already a tragic situation has been compounded by the coronavirus,” reports The New York Times. “The families will mostly be grieving in solitude.”
Illinois’s “stay-at-home” rules exempt gun suppliers and retailers. Governor Jay Pritzker’s executive order appears to set the state apart from California, where the authorities have shut down at least one gun shop, and Pennsylvania, whose governor declared gun shops “nonessential.” A gun rights group, the Firearms Policy Coalition, filed suit in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on Friday to reverse that determination. Late Sunday night, the court dismissed the suit.
Meanwhile, New York State’s shutdown order forced the closure of a gun manufacturing plant. Employees at a Remington facility in the town of Ilion told the gun rights blog The Truth About Guns that they’ve been directed to close.
To get around Nevada’s virus-fighting measures, one gun shop is offering curbside service. Reno Guns & Range has arranged for prospective gun buyers to fill out paperwork outside the shop and then be escorted into the shop one at a time; prospective ammo buyers can order bullets and have a staffer bring them out.
ICYMI: CORONAVIRUS REPORTING FROM THE TRACE
You just panic-bought a gun. Here’s how to handle it safely. West Coast correspondent Alain Stephens, a military and law enforcement veteran and longtime gun owner, breaks down the dos and don’ts of keeping a weapon in the house. “Buying a firearm isn’t the same as stockpiling toilet paper,” he cautions. “And it’s a grave — potentially lethal — mistake to simply toss a powerful weapon under a mattress or prop it up in a garage.”
Trust in guns during crises is a triumph of marketing. Editorial director James Burnett talked to Caroline Light, a Harvard professor whose field of study includes “America’s love affair with armed self-defense,” about the efforts by the gun industry and its lobbying groups to sell firearms as essential to personal safety, despite the hazards they introduce for owners. “There’s so much money to be made in making the population fearful of its individual security,” she says.