Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP]

Daily Bulletin: When Gun Stores See Themselves as ‘Essential Businesses’

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Here’s a storyline to watch as state and city officials take increasingly strong steps to mandate social distancing: Will gun stores comply? Find the early answers from two states in your Friday roundup. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Some gun dealers have defied measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus, prompting officials to enforce their closure. Philadelphia on Monday ordered all “nonessential businesses” to shutter, but gun stores remained open early this week as buyers flocked in. A city spokesperson told Philadelphia Magazine that enforcement of the order had begun and hoped gun stores would comply. In California – where the governor just announced a stay-at-home order for the entire state – the mayor of San Jose also declared gun dealers subject to broader shut-down orders and sent the police to close one shop without incident. “The one thing we cannot have is panic buying of guns,” the mayor said.

A Long Island police commissioner to pandemic gun buyers: “Let the professionals do what we do.” Nassau County, on Long Island, is another corner of the country to see a surge in gun sales. “The right to purchase a firearm is your Second Amendment right, but to purchase a gun because you’re afraid of lawlessness or looting… our cops have you covered,” Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told Newsday. He added. “There’s no need to be concerned. Crime has actually started to decline a little bit because people are home.”

Congressman skipped coronavirus vote but made time for NRA event. Don Young, Alaska’s sole congressperson and an National Rifle Association board member, flew back home the day before a March 14 House vote on a coronavirus relief package. Instead, he attended a senior citizen luncheon where he made light of the seriousness of COVID-19 and attended a gun group fundraiser, according to his campaign Facebook page.

Maryland ramps up support for fighting community gun violence. Before adjourning early because of the coronavirus, lawmakers approved a measure that requires the governor to spend at least $3 million and up to $10 million each year on the state’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program to further support evidence-based gun violence reduction strategies. The bill also includes $3.6 million for Baltimore’s Safe Streets program, which deploys violent interrupters to underserved neighborhoods to diffuse conflicts. Maryland is one of eight states to fund community-based prevention efforts. Last week, Virginia became the most recent, as Champe Barton reported.

DATA POINT

Federal gun background checks were up 300 percent on Monday, compared to the same day a year before, according to the gun industry’s trade group. — Newsweek