San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO), a Santee-based, political action committee (PAC) promoting Second Amendment rights, is applauding recent federal guidelines that have classified gun shop retailers as essential businesses to remain open during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
“Despite what you might be hearing from over-reaching, power-hungry politicians, gun shops are protected by the federal government and are absolutely deemed essential,” said Santee resident Michael Schwartz, executive director, SDCGO. “This virus pandemonium has uncovered politicians who will use a crisis as an opportunity to restrict Constitutional freedoms and threaten everyone’s Second Amendment civil rights. Law-abiding Americans must never be deprived of the right to defend themselves and their loved ones at any time.”
In a memo dated March 28, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) identified “workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability.” Appearing on page 6 of the 15-page CISA document that lists essential critical infrastructure workforce is the following: “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors and shooting ranges.”
The government document, available at www.SDCGO.org/GunShopsEssential, states its list of essential workers is “advisory in nature” and “intended to help state, local, tribal and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities.”
“While the CISA document is not the law, state and local governments have chosen to rely on federal guidelines regarding what businesses are considered as essential,” Schwartz said. “We expect state and local government will continue to be consistent by following the federal guidelines for the safety of society and first responders. We’re telling our gun shop members to stay open and not be bullied or intimidated by gun control activists or politicians who are intent on an abuse of power.”
Schwartz said he was grateful about recent statements by San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore who said his department will not force firearm dealers in county jurisdiction to close. Calling their service valuable, Gore asked store operators to follow social distancing rules and find alternative ways to sell guns and ammunition, such as online or by appointment. Gore said he was concerned that forcing gun stores to close would lead to illegal sales in the black market. He said gun stores ensure legal and prudent sales by carrying out state-mandated measures such as background checks.
Gore’s remarks were in stark contrast to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva who labeled gun stores nonessential and said they would be cited unless they close. A few days later, Villanueva reversed his position after he said county counsel determined that gun stores could be considered an essential business during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Schwartz added he was “extremely disappointed” with what he called “inflammatory” statements by San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher who also cited opinions from attorneys and said in a recent press briefing, “We consulted with our county counsel. It is not our belief that gun stores are essential businesses based on the governor’s executive order and, so, therefore, they should not be open in the county of San Diego.” (www.facebook.com/NBCSanDiego/videos/2726661324116994/)
“We have a harsh condemnation for Supervisor Fletcher and are extremely disappointed with his inflammatory rhetoric about closing gun shops,” said Schwartz. “The Supervisor’s potentially dangerous statements were ludicrous and escalated an already tense situation unnecessarily with bad information. Nathan Fletcher should stop his inflammatory rhetoric and concentrate on the business of running the county.”
Schwartz said the PAC’s 1,800 members have a message for public officials dealing with the virus hysteria.
“Our members have asked us to encourage all elected officials and health professionals to consider their words carefully and proceed with caution when considering public policies that trample on freedoms central to American life and the economic security of the country,” said Schwartz.
“In the case of gun shop owners as small businesses who are struggling to survive during this hysteria, the economic shutdown has been devastating. Of course, gun shop owners believe that every life matters and that it’s important to thwart the spread with social distancing. But, an economic recession and social crisis has been created with extreme measures intended to solve a medical crisis. Gun shops have been castigated for their attempts to simply serve their customers.
“In addition, the situation has been made worse by overreacting politicians who stroke public outrage with their incendiary and reckless comments as they flex their egos in the name of safeguarding public health. During a time when people are trying to make sure they remain safe and secure is not a time to advance your political agenda. For the sake of the safety of all San Diegans, please be a part of the solution rather than creating yet another problem.”
Schwartz noted the spike in gun sales and ammunition fueled by the need for self-defense during the national coronavirus scare. Federal gun background checks — a key barometer of gun sales — are up 300 percent, compared to the same timeframe a year ago, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NICS), the federal background check system.
“As we’ve seen in the past with other national events, Americans are serious about providing for their safety and security,” said Schwartz. “Thousands of San Diegans have purchased firearms in recent weeks, and hundreds of thousands of gun owners across the country want to buy ammunition or need a gun smith. Depending on how long this emergency continues, many Americans may find themselves facing situations where they will need to be their own first responders.”
While every U.S. state has a Second Amendment PAC, along with several nationwide gun rights PACs, SDCGO is believed to be America’s first strictly local, countywide Second Amendment advocacy organization. The local PAC features a diverse and inclusive membership with representatives from the LGBT, Latino, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander communities.
Founded in 2015, the San Diego County Gun Owners is a registered political action committee (FPPC ID #1379388) and advocacy organization focused on organizing the gun industry and community and protecting the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. With a membership exceeding 1,800 individuals, the PAC provides news and information on new gun laws and Second Amendment advocacy. Its sponsored events include gun safety classes, small gun shows, sporting clay shoots, social gatherings and pistol, rifle and shotgun experiences taught by professional instructors. For more information, visit www.sandiegocountygunowners.com.