Gun sellers listed as 'critical' infrastructure

A federal agency has designated gun sellers as part of the country’s “critical” infrastructure during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Saturday included “workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges” as critical infrastructure on an advisory list. 

The agency emphasized that the list is “advisory in nature,” adding that it is not intended to be “the exclusive list” for what’s included in critical infrastructure. 

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The list is meant to help other federal agencies, states and local governments to decide which industries should continue work during the pandemic. But individual jurisdictions have the authority to “add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.”

“All decisions should appropriately balance public safety, the health and safety of the workforce, and the continued delivery of essential critical infrastructure services and functions,” the agency said in the advisory. 

The federal agency had not originally included the firearms industry on a list of critical infrastructure issued more than a week ago, The Associated Press noted.

Gun rights groups and those in the firearm industry celebrated the addition, especially as some have battled California officials for the designation. 

“In these uncertain times, the ability to protect yourself -- and to acquire firearms, magazines and ammunition -- should not be ignored,” Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President Erich Pratt said in a statement. 

The Los Angeles County sheriff shut down gun stores after California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomTrump campaign accuses Twitter of 'political bias' after it fact-checks president's tweets Hillicon Valley: Twitter fact-checks Trump | House reaches deal surveillance program amendment | Canada to lead anti-cyber attack effort 12 things to know today about coronavirus MORE (D) left decisions on critical infrastructure up to the county governments.

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Gun rights groups sued the county, saying the closures of these stores violates the Second Amendment, according to the AP.

The Brady Campaign released a statement in response to the designation saying the state and local governments should have the authority to shut down these businesses. The campaign's president, Kris Brown, said in a statement that the advisory is "ill-conceived and dangerous."

"State and local governments are well within their constitutional rights to broadly close businesses in order to prevent the spread and flatten the curve, and they are definitely not required to designate gun industry businesses as ‘essential’ and keep them open," she said. "There is no constitutional right to immediately buy or sell guns, and there is certainly no right to spread coronavirus while buying or selling guns."