Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Federal Judge Enjoins Massachusetts Gun Store Lockdown

Monday, May 11, 2020

Federal Judge Enjoins Massachusetts Gun Store Lockdown

Last week, Judge Douglas P. Woodlock of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued a preliminary injunction that allows gun stores to resume operation in the Bay State as long as they adhere to a set of social distancing guidelines. The ruling is an important victory in the fight to protect Second Amendment rights during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

On March 23, Governor Charlie Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 13, which required the closure of all businesses not deemed "essential." The order did not designate gun stores as "essential" businesses. 

On March 28, the Trump administration updated the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency​ ("CISA") guidance on the critical infrastructure that should remain open during state shutdown orders due to COVID-19.​ The guidance identified "Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges" as critical infrastructure.

Following the federal government's determination, on March 31, Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 21. Complying with the DHS guidelines, the order designated firearms retailers as "essential" businesses.

However, later that same day the Baker administration removed firearm retailers and shooting ranges from the list of essential businesses. This reversal was cheered by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who declared to her Twitter followers, "Gun shops and shooting ranges are NOT essential businesses during a public health emergency."

On April 9, a group of Massachusetts gun stores filed suit to halt Baker's gun store closure on Second Amendment grounds. Later that month, NRA and its state affiliate Gun Owners' Action League filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.

In the amicus brief, NRA made clear that Baker's orders were an impermissible violation of the Second Amendment. The brief pointed out that in the landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a total ban on the acquisition of a single class of firearm - handguns. Baker's order effectively prohibited the acquisition of all classes of firearms in Massachusetts and therefore are illegal under Supreme Court precedent.

Further, the brief noted that Baker's order was impermissible under First Circuit precedent. In the 2018 case Gould v. Morgan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit adopted a controversial two-step analysis for Second Amendment cases. First the court must determine "whether the challenged law burdens conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee." If the measure does implicate the Second Amendment right then the court is tasked with determining what level of scrutiny to apply to the measure and whether the law is permissible under that level of scrutiny. 

In Gould, the First Circuit “identified the core of the Second Amendment right as ‘the possession of operative firearms for use in defense of the home’ by responsible, law-abiding individuals.”​ As Baker's order foreclosed the ability to acquire firearms for this purpose, the order struck at the core of the Second Amendment right.

The First Circuit also made clear in Gould that “A law or policy that burdens conduct falling within the core of the Second Amendment requires a correspondingly strict level of scrutiny​." Therefore analysis of the Baker orders demands strict scrutiny.

Strict scrutiny requires that the Government prove the restriction furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. A closure of all firearms-related businesses is not narrowly tailored. Moreover, the state cannot demonstrate that a blanket closure of firearm retailers will directly or materially alleviate the harms posed by COVID-19​ considering the plaintiffs challenging the order stated that they would abide by all social distancing and workforce requirements for the operation of essential businesses. ​

Woodlock's order underscores the excessive nature of Baker's actions, as the standard for obtaining a preliminary injunction is rigorous. A plaintiff must show that they are likely to succeed on the merits of the case, show that there is irreparable harm without the injunction, demonstrate that the balance of equities is in their favor, and establish that the injunction is in the public interest. In granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Woodlock made clear that Baker's orders are likely unconstitutional, cause irreparable harm to Bay Staters' rights, and that this attack on Second Amendment rights was against the public interest.

According to Reuters, Baker told the press that his office will review Woodlock's order and stated,  "[w]e will certainly comply with any kind of judicial ruling on anything." Sincere compliance with a lawful court order would mark a welcome change in the Baker administration. In late 2018, the Baker administration declared its intent to defy court orders issued by the state's courts pertaining to the issuance of firearms licenses before backing down in early 2019.

NRA will continue to monitor the situation in Massachusetts and work to ensure that Second Amendment rights are not a casualty of the COVID-19 crisis.​ Please visit www.nraila.org/coronavirus to stay up-to-date on this and other important COVID-19 related Second Amendment issues.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Massachusetts Covid-19 Gun Shops
TRENDING NOW
NRA Opposes David Chipman for ATF Director

News  

Friday, April 9, 2021

NRA Opposes David Chipman for ATF Director

During a press conference on Thursday, President Biden announced that he would once again be targeting law-abiding gun owners by ordering ATF to develop two new restrictive regulations. Aiming to accessorize the Department of Justice’s ...

In New Executive Gun Control Push, Biden Seems to Throw Obama, and Himself, Under the Bus

News  

Monday, April 12, 2021

In New Executive Gun Control Push, Biden Seems to Throw Obama, and Himself, Under the Bus

At Biden's recent Rose Garden ceremony, where he announced his latest assault on the Second Amendment, he lied a number of times, and garbled the name of the federal agency tasked with enforcing federal gun ...

A Radical Idea: It’s Not the Gun, it’s the Criminal

News  

Monday, April 12, 2021

A Radical Idea: It’s Not the Gun, it’s the Criminal

Rahm Emanuel, recently the mayor of Chicago and who has previously served as a member of the Clinton Administration and as President Obama’s White House chief of staff, proposed a few curious gun control ideas ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Texas: Urge Your Lawmakers to Pass Permitless Carry this Session

Monday, April 12, 2021

Texas: Urge Your Lawmakers to Pass Permitless Carry this Session

House Bill 1911, by Rep. James White (R-Woodville), and House Bill 1927, by Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), NRA-backed permitless carry proposals that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun without a state-issued License To Carry (LTC), have been reported ...

New Jersey: Gov. Murphy Announces Drastic Gun Control Agenda

Thursday, April 15, 2021

New Jersey: Gov. Murphy Announces Drastic Gun Control Agenda

Thursday morning, Gov. Phil Murphy held a press conference to unveil yet another gun control package in the Garden State.  

Hunter Biden Incident Shows that Gun Laws are for the Little People

News  

Monday, April 5, 2021

Hunter Biden Incident Shows that Gun Laws are for the Little People

There is a central hypocrisy at the heart of the gun control effort.

South Carolina House Passes Constitutional Carry

Friday, April 9, 2021

South Carolina House Passes Constitutional Carry

Yesterday, the House voted to pass House Bill 3096 on third reading. It has been sent to the Senate for further consideration.

Texas: Permitless Carry Scheduled for House Consideration on Thursday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Texas: Permitless Carry Scheduled for House Consideration on Thursday!

House Bill 1927, by Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), an NRA-backed permitless carry proposal that would allow law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun without a state-issued License To Carry (LTC), will be debated by the full Texas House on Thursday!

NRA-backed Constitutional Carry Signed in Tennessee

News  

Thursday, April 8, 2021

NRA-backed Constitutional Carry Signed in Tennessee

Gov. Bill Lee signs NRA-backed constitutional carry bill to advance the self-defense rights of all Tennessee gun owners. 

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.