The National Rifle Association is suing New York state’s governor Andrew Cuomo and the economic development in federal court on Thursday for shutting down gun stores during the coronavirus epidemic by deeming them non-essential businesses.
In the lawsuit, the NRA claimed that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has “effectively and indefinitely suspended a key component of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution” by forcing gun stores across the state to close temporarily during the coronavirus outbreak.
According to CNN, the federal government designated gun stores as an “essential service” in their updated guidance, but those guidelines are advisory, which means states can use their own discretion “to add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements.”
Governor Cuomo did not deem firearm and ammunition retailers to be essential, as many states around the country issued stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The NRA chose to sue Cuomo in both his official and personal capacity, as well as New York’s Empire State Development agency and its acting commissioner.
“By closing federally licensed dealers, Defendants have cut off the only way of legally purchasing firearms in the State,” the lawsuit says. “As a result of the government’s overreach, most New Yorkers have no legal way to exercise the constitutional right to purchase arms or ammunition.”
The NRA suggested that the pandemic could be a time of increased need for a firearm.
“The current public health emergency does not justify impeding the exercise of Second Amendment rights,” the lawsuit states, “especially during a time when many New Yorkers have valid concerns about the ability of the government to maintain order—and criminals are being prematurely released from jails.”
Governor Cuomo addressed the legal challenge during a news conference on coronavirus saying, “I think I’ve been sued by the NRA, must be a dozen times. I didn’t even know I was sued this time. You become sort of lawsuit immune. I wish I could become immune to this virus the way I’ve become immune to NRA lawsuits,” he said.