NEW JERSEY – New Jersey Senator Michael Testa called on Governor Phil Murphy Wednesday to add guns stores to the lists of essential retail businesses that are allowed to remain open during the current state of emergency due to the coronavirus.
“People have a constitutional right to bear arms and to defend themselves and their families during these uncertain times,” said Testa (R-1). “Gun stores should never have been closed in the first place. Now that more police departments are reporting officers sick with the coronavirus, it’s increasingly clear that understaffed law enforcement agencies may not have the ability to respond immediately when a family needs help. Governor Murphy can help protect New Jerseyans by opening gun stores and allowing citizens to protect themselves if needed.”
The governor’s executive order allowed a number of “essential” retail businesses to remain open during the state of emergency, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and liquor stores.
On Tuesday, the governor added a number of types of businesses to that “essential” list, including bike repair shops, mobile phone stores, and garden centers.
“The governor is doing the right thing by amending his list of essential businesses as we gain a greater understanding of what is critical to maintain the safety and security of New Jersey during this crisis,” said Testa. “He needs to recognize that gun shops are essential too, which is why Pennsylvania has allowed gun stores to reopen. It’s crazy that the governor thinks liquor stores are essential, but stores that enhance personal safety are not.”
Additionally, Testa called on Murphy to restore the full functionality of the New Jersey National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) website to allow New Jersey firearms dealers to submit new requests to the system. The New Jersey State Police NICS Unit directed the vendor that operates the system to turn off the NICS Online Services for submitting NICS transactions on March 21.
“Governor Murphy should order a full restoration of the NJ NICS system immediately,” added Testa. “Firearms dealers must be declared ‘essential retail businesses’ that are critical to public safety, and they need the ability to process background checks through the regular online system. This will also address the needs of customers who had transactions in the pipeline prior to the current coronavirus crisis who have been stuck in limbo due to the governor’s executive orders.”