NSSF Stands Tall in Fight to Keep Industry Open for Business

As states issued stay-at-home orders, NSSF worked hard to get FFLs and other gun businesses listed as "essential."

An antique firearm on top of The Constitution.
An antique firearm on top of The Constitution.NSSF

As stay-at-home orders were handed down state by state, NSSF’s Government Relations Team, led by Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, spent countless hours contacting key politicians in state legislatures and governors’ offices to have firearms businesses—particularly FFL retailers, but also ranges, distributors, wholesalers, and manufacturers—listed as “essential.” As this magazine goes to press, those states (or localities within) that heard our message include:

Alabama Kansas Oklahoma
Alaska Kentucky Oregon
Arizona Louisiana Pennsylvania
Arkansas Maine Rhode Island
Colorado Maryland South Carolina
Connecticut Minnesota South Dakota
Delaware Mississippi Tennessee
District of Columbia Missouri Texas
Florida Montana Utah
Georgia Nebraska Virginia
Hawaii New Hampshire Washington
Idaho New Jersey West Virginia
Illinois North Carolina Wisconsin
Indiana North Dakota Wyoming
Iowa Ohio

In all, thanks to NSSF’s efforts, the industry is open and running in at least 45 states. There are some states—Nevada in particular—whose firearms businesses remain functioning but in an environment of uncertainty, as their governors’ executive stay-at-home orders failed to list firearms businesses as essential yet contain language that says those businesses that provide safety and sanitation to residences may continue. FFLs in Delaware and New Jersey are allowed to conduct business by appointment only, and a couple of other states have gone back and forth on the “essential” debate.

These few struggles aside, the long list of successes on the state level has had a decisive impact on our industry members continuing to function and have their businesses remain open—the enormous number of, and long delays for, NICS and state-level background checks are ample testament to that. But none match the magnitude of NSSF having the Department of Homeland Security identify our industry members as “critical infrastructure.” In a memorandum issued by the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on March 28, 2020, coronavirus guidance on critical infrastructure included:

  • Workers including contracted vendors who maintain, manufacture, or supply equipment and services supporting law enforcement emergency service and response operations (to include electronic security and life-safety security personnel).
  • Workers supporting the manufacturing of safety equipment and uniforms for law enforcement, public-safety personnel, and first responders.
  • Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges. That guidance gets much of the credit for propelling our success on the state level. Credit also goes to NSSF’s many members who worked the phones and email campaigns right alongside us—we would not have accomplished so much so swiftly without them.