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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Gun stores to open amid pandemic, Murphy says

Governor cites federal guidelines in lifting restrictions on firearms industry

By Nikita Biryukov, March 30 2020 2:32 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy eased restrictions imposed on gun stores in response to the COVID-19 crisis on Monday.

“In accordance with the guidance released over the weekend by the federal Department of Homeland Security, we will allow firearms retailers to operate, by appointment only and during limited hours, to conduct business which, under law, must be done in person,” Murphy said.

On Saturday, the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an advisory designation naming the firearms industry a critical part of the United States’ infrastructure.

“It wouldn’t have been my definition, but that is the definition at the federal level,” Murphy said. “I didn’t get a vote on that.”

Murphy’s administration had already faced legal challenges over its designating gun stores as non-essential.

Those shops, along with other businesses deemed non-essential, were closed by an executive order Murphy issued earlier this month.

The legal challenges claim the governor’s order infringes upon rights granted by the Second Amendment.

State Sen. Michael Testa, who previously called for gun shops to be opened amid the COVID-19 crisis, lauded the about-face from Murphy.

“I am pleased that Gov. Murphy is finally recognizing and honoring our constitutional right to bear arms, especially amid this State of Emergency,” Testa said. “The Second Amendment is essential to all law-abiding citizens, particularly for increased safety, security, and self-protection. New Jerseyans’ rights to purchase a firearm should have never been infringed upon in the first place.”

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