Two years removed from initial COVID-19 shutdowns, politicians across the country have begun introducing legislation to address policies and controls enacted during the pandemic. One such subject of early legislative sessions has been protecting firearms businesses during a declared state of emergency – such as a pandemic.
As life ground to a halt across the country in early 2020, “nonessential” businesses shuttered per state and local orders, often heavily influenced by federal guidance. Among businesses impacted were FFLs, as firearm manufacturers and dealers were not explicitly recognized as “critical infrastructure” until the end of March that year. Still, some states, like Michigan, New York and Washington, kept firearms businesses closed or limited their operation while others were quick to grant permission to reopen. Most notably, manufacturers CZ-USA, Kimber and Remington were forced to close their facilities for extended periods of time.
Fast forward to 2022 and the states of Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri and Oklahoma, among others, have all proposed bills to formalize protection of the firearms industry during state-declared emergencies.
These bills, and a summary of their text, are provided below:
AK SB136 – During a disaster emergency, the governor, a state agency, or a municipality may not issue or adopt an order: (1) forbidding the possession, use, or transfer of a firearm or ammunition; (2) ordering the seizure or confiscation of a firearm or ammunition; (3) limiting the quantity or placing other restrictions on the sale or service of firearms; (4) suspending, revoking, or refusing to accept an application for a permit to carry a concealed handgun
GA HB1378 – During or pursuant to a declared state of emergency, no official or employee of the state or any political subdivision thereof shall: seize any firearm or ammunition; (2) prohibit possession of any firearm or ammunition; (3) prohibit any license holder from carrying any weapon; (4) prohibit the manufacture, sale, or transfer of any firearm or ammunition; (5) suspend, revoke, or refuse to accept an application for any weapons carry license; (6) close or limit operational hours of any FFL; (7) require registration of any firearm
ID HB705 – The transport, storage, transfer, sale, import and export, distribution, repair, maintenance, and manufacture of and commerce in firearms and ammunition, shooting ranges, and other goods and services directly related to lawful firearm possession, use, storage, repair, maintenance, sale or transfer, and training in the use of firearms are declared to be life-sustaining, essential businesses and services for the purposes of safety and security in times of declared emergency
MO HB1607 – Neither the state nor an official, agency, or political subdivision thereof shall issue or adopt any order that would prohibit, restrict, or reduce the operation of a firearm business, including any business engaged in the manufacturing, distributing, selling, or training for the use of firearms or ammunition and shall include shooting ranges
OK HB3157 – Neither the Governor nor any official of a municipal or state entity shall: (1) prohibit or suspend the sale, ownership, possession, transportation, carrying, transfer and storage of firearms or ammunition during a declared state of emergency; (2) prohibit or restrict the business or operations of a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, supplier, retailer, or a gun range
While these bills are in the early stages of review by state legislatures, their introduction is proof states understand the importance and value of the firearms industry and its workforce – an industry responsible for $63.5 billion in economic impact in 2020.
For more firearms industry news, stay tuned to Orchid for the latest legislative updates, and register to attend FIC 2022, April 25–27, as leaders and federal agency executives address the state of the firearms industry and the impact of new state laws on your FFL.