Several gun rights groups filed a lawsuit on Thursday in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts that challenges the decision of Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker to close all businesses selling firearms and ammunition to the public.
Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 13 on March 23, which closed the physical workplaces of all businesses and organizations that do not provide essential services. Under the order, firearm and ammunition retailers were not considered essential services.
On March 31 Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 21, which extended the length of Order No. 13 and revised the list of essential services. Under the category of “Law Enforcement, Public Safety, and First Responders,” workers “supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, importers, and distributors” were now included. However, firearms dealers were still not considered essential.
In the complaint, the gun rights groups stated that the closure amounts to “a ban on obtaining modern arms for personal defense in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” Even though the plaintiffs acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic justified certain changes, they asserted that every emergency has constitutional limits. They alleged that the need for self-defense is “most acute during times of uncertainty and crisis,” so they “need to be able to exercise their fundamental rights to keep and bear arms.” According to the complaint, the order acts “as a perpetual bar” for the acquisition of firearms and ammunition for self-protection.
The plaintiffs are seeking a declaratory judgment that the order violates the Second and Fourth Amendments, as well as an injunction preventing the enforcement of the order. They also are seeking damages and attorney’s fees.
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