Texas AG says gun stores are essential, should remain open amid pandemic

 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared Friday in a statement that gun stores should be classified as  essential businesses, allowing them to remain open amid shutdowns dozens of counties in the state have imposed on local businesses to stem the spread of coronavirus. 

“State law provides several emergency powers to local governments to control movement within their region during a disaster, which serves our communities well during public health events like the one we’re fighting now.However, local regulation of the sale, possession, and ownership of firearms is specifically prohibited under Texas law,” said Paxton, who received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). 

“Under our laws, every Texan retains their right to purchase and possess firearms,” he added.

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Paxton's statement is a nonbinding opinion. 

Texas, the country’s second-largest state by population and landmass, has not issued a “stay at home” order, though dozens have been issued at the local level across the Lone Star State, with varying interpretations of the term “nonessential businesses.”

Harris County, which has a population larger than 14 U.S. states, issued a stay at home order on Tuesday, though some gun retailers in the county remained open. One county official told the Texas Tribune the “clear intent is for this order to be interpreted narrowly," though enforcement of such orders is spotty. 

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On Wednesday, state Rep. Dustin Burrows (R), asked Paxton's office to weigh in on whether gun stores could be considered essential by local officials after the mayor of Lubbock, the a city in his district, deemed gun retailers "nonessential."

"Having access to tools of self-protection, hunting and for keeping your property safe and secure is always essential. It's even more essential for access during times of uncertainty and emergency," Burrows said in a statement. 

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomOVERNIGHT ENERGY: California seeks to sell only electric cars by 2035 | EPA threatens to close New York City office after Trump threats to 'anarchist' cities | House energy package sparks criticism from left and right California seeks to sell only electric cars by 2035 EPA head questions connection of climate change to natural disasters MORE (D) classified gun stores as “unessential” in his “stay at home” order as gun sales began to rise nationwide, prompting a lawsuit from the NRA Saturday.