New Jersey Sued for Closing Gun Shops in Pandemic

NEWARK, N.J. (CN) — As most New Jersey businesses shut their doors this weekend to slow down the spread of coronavirus infections, families across the Garden State took stock of what they’ll have to get through a pandemic with no modern-day precedent.

Supermarkets and other retailers deemed essential will remain open during the lockdown, but gun dealers were left off the list of exempted businesses.

The decision prompted a federal complaint Monday from one Somerset man who did not get his firearm in time.

“When the novel coronavirus began to spread in the United States, [Kashinsky] became concerned about his ability to protect himself and his wife in the event that the situation developed such that emergency services were unavailable or were not reliably available,” the complaint states. “He decided that it had now become an appropriate time to purchase a firearm.”

An elderly shopper searches barren shelves for toilet paper at a Stop & Shop supermarket on March 19, 2020.  (AP Photo/David Goldman)

As required by state law, Kashinsky first had to pass a police background check and submit his fingerprints to get what is known as an FPID, short for a firearms purchaser identification card.

On Saturday Kashinsky went to a licensed firearms dealer but left emptyhanded, planning to come back on Tuesday so that he could finalize his purchase of either a rifle or shotgun.

On Sunday, however, Governor Phil Murphy signed the executive order that closed nonessential businesses. State police closed the online background check portal the same day.

In addition to supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations, businesses that have been allowed to remain open as essential include convenience and liquor stores.

Alleging violations of the Second and 14th Amendment, Kashinsky is joined in the lawsuit by the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, the Second Amendment Foundation and one Middlesex County gun dealer, Legend Firearms.

“Governor Murphy wasted NO time to exploit a tragic pandemic to push his radical and Draconian anti-self-defense agenda to undermine the Second Amendment even further,” Alex Roubian, president fo the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, said in a statement. “At a time where the Second Amendment is most critical and vital, Governor Murphy believes liquor and home improvement is more critical than self-defense.”

The group is a frequent foe of the Murphy administration and wants the executive order ruled invalid.

More than 367,000 people worldwide are confirmed to have been infected by Covid-19, and more than 16,000 have died. In New Jersey alone, nearly 3,000 are infected and 27 are dead.

Governor Murphy has grown increasing angry at residents defying the stay-at-home advice of medical experts, and at businesses that have not complied with the order to close, saying over the weekend he was “damned unhappy” about the lack of social distancing.

The governor’s office has not returned a request for comment.

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