MAHWAH – Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order 107, issued on March 21st in response to the Coronavirus crisis, mandated the indefinite closure of all “non-essential” businesses.  The order applies to all businesses except those specifically exempted.  Gun stores and ranges were not listed as exempt.

The Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC) obtained a “clarification” from the Governor’s office that specified the following:

“Gun stores are not deemed essential and are therefore ordered closed; The National Instant Check System in NJ (NICS) for processing all firearms and ammunition transactions has been shut down completely; and All ranges (indoor and outdoor, public and private) are ordered closed under a restriction on recreational activities.”

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The ANJRPC makes the point that “two major parts of the Second Amendment (means of firearms acquisition and means of developing firearms proficiency) have been shut down completely, without an end date, by a single government official, by executive order. Social distancing protocols, utilized elsewhere to justify keeping certain other supposedly essential businesses open, are not even part of the equation when it comes to firearms, ammunition, and ranges.”

Congressional candidate Frank Pallotta (R-CD05) asked: “Given the Governor’s statements and record regarding the Second Amendment, I have to ask if this is anything more than a crass attempt by Governor Murphy to use a health emergency to pursue a political agenda?” 

Pallotta noted the abysmal level of testing in New Jersey – home to many of the world’s pharmaceutical giants: “In South Korea, they have tested one of every 150 citizens.  That is 30 times the capita we are doing.  Instead of aggressively testing, the Governor has opted to, in essence, “jail” most of the population by stripping them of their freedoms under the Bill of Rights.”  Pallotta added, “Who gave him the power to use a health crisis to specifically target the First and Second Amendments?”

Pallotta is formally asking the Governor to be transparent and to explain the decision-making processes that led to including Second Amendment-related businesses and activities in his office’s “clarification” of Executive Order 107.  Pallotta also asked for a full disclosure of the Attorney General’s legal advice in this matter. 

“Everyone is suffering, the economy is being destroyed, and the Governor has no plan to preserve the financial wellbeing of the citizens of New Jersey.  If, in addition to this, he is using the emergency to advance his own partisan political agenda, I would ask him to think about it and reconsider his decision to exclude Gun stores from the exempt list and deem them essential businesses”.