Pennsylvania Supreme Court Denies Appeal of Gun Store Closures, All Shops Ordered Closed on Monday

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has denied an emergency request that would have blocked the governor’s order to close all gun retailers in the state in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The court ruled on Sunday evening that the gun shops could be closed down, letting the order go into effect on Monday.

The gun shop shut down was part of an order by Democrat Governor Tom Wolf that closed all businesses that are not considered to be “life sustaining.” Gun rights groups argued before the Supreme Court that this should include weapons retailers, but they were denied.

The order shut down the stores on Monday without any timeline for when they can reopen.

The Free Beacon reports that in a dissent joined by two other justices, Justice David Wecht said the order, as written, represented an “impermissible intrusion upon a fundamental constitutional right,” pointing to other industries that have been exempted from the shutdown. He said that there should be accommodations made for constitutionally protected gun shops, the same way there were exceptions made for restaurants. 

“In my view, it is incumbent upon the Governor to make some manner of allowance for our citizens to continue to exercise this constitutional right,” Wecht said, arguing gun stores could be permitted to operate on a limited basis. “Such an accommodation may be effectuated while preserving sensible restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, but nonetheless provide a legal avenue for the purchase and sale of firearms, thus avoiding an impermissible intrusion upon a fundamental constitutional right.”

The majority judges were not required to provide an explanation or argument for why they voted the way that they did.

The Free Beacon noted that whether or not gun shops are considered essential has been varying state by state. In Illinois, for example, gun stores have been allowed to stay open. In California and New Jersey, they have been ordered to close.

A lawsuit was filed on Monday by the Second Amendment Foundation and the New Jersey Second Amendment Society against the closures in that state. The NRA has also threatened lawsuits in the states that close down gun retailers.

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