By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News
As of this weekend, non-essential businesses throughout the state were ordered to close their doors through April 17 in an effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
In the order State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris lists several “close-contact” service establishments that are no longer allowed to operate, but gun stores were not a part of that list.
The Alabama Department of Public Health has not yet responded to questions from Alabama Daily News about about how this distinction was made.
Alabama Rep. Andrew Sorrell, R-Muscle Shoals, owns Gold, Guns, and Guitars, two pawn shops that firearms. He’s staying open.
“We are regulated by the state banking department and those are all considered essential,” Sorrell told ADN. “Anything to do with money lending and banks, all of that is considered essential.”
Sorrell said that having firearm stores continue to be open is important because it’s important to allow people to exercise their constitutional rights.
“People need to have access to purchase firearms,” Sorrell said.
In recent weeks, firearm sales have skyrocketed, the Associated Press reported.
Background checks — the key barometer of gun sales — already were at record numbers in January and February, likely fueled by a presidential election year. Since the coronavirus outbreak, gun shops have reported long lines and runs on firearms and ammunition.
Background checks were up 300% on March 16, compared with the same date a year ago, according to federal data shared with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers. Since Feb. 23, each day has seen roughly double the volume over 2019, the AP reported.
Some states that have ordered people to stay home have not deemed gun stores as essential businesses like grocery stores and banks. The mayor of New Orleans issued an emergency proclamation that declared the authority to restrict sales of firearms and ammunition.