A federal judge today issued a preliminary injunction that bars Gov. Baker from continuing to shut gun shops because, after all, come on, Charlie, Second Amendment. And that goes for you too, Maura.
US District Court Judge Douglas Woodlock did make some concessions to the current public-health emergency: Gun stores can only sell guns by appointment, and no more than four of those an hour, people inside shops will have to stay at least six feet away from each other, employees will have to wear face coverings and stores will have to provide hand-washing sinks and soap to employees - and the time to use them. Sick employees and customers have to stay home. Stores will also have to supply alcohol wipes to both workers and customers, but only "if available," because the absence of hand wipes is hardly enough to shut a gun shop down. after all.
Gov. Baker had ordered gun shops closed as non-essential in his state-of-emergency declaration in March. Gun shops and Second Amendment groups, of course, promptly sued, arguing, in part, that, especially during a pandemic, Americans need to arm themselves against the violent hordes that might be unleashed:
The need for personal self-defense is most acute during times of uncertainty and crisis - when law enforcement services may not be available or may not be reliably available, and when (as now) criminal offenders may be released from custody or may be less likely to be taken into custody in the first place. It is precisely times like these that the Plaintiffs and the Plaintiffs’ members need to be able to exercise their fundamental rights to keep and bear arms.
Over the course of two days of hearings this week, Woodlock indicated he agreed that a deadly pandemic is not reason enough to curtail people's Second Amendment rights.
Barring a successful appeal by the state, Woodlock's order goes into effect at noon on Saturday.
If you don't already have a gun license, don't try to make an appointment with your local legal gun dealer, though - the order only applies to whether stores are allowed to open, and leaves untouched the state's gun-permitting regulations, which require would be gun owners to get permission from their local police department first.