PA Supreme Court Says Gun Shops Are Not 'Life Sustaining' During Coronavirus Shutdown

Mar 23, 2020

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gun shop that challenged Gov. Tom Wolf’s authority to shutter businesses determined to be “non-life-sustaining,” paving the way for enforcement to begin Monday.

Without comment, a majority of the state’s high court late Sunday denied the petition by a gun shop, a gun purchaser and a law firm to have Wolf’s shutdown order thrown out.

The suit had claimed, amidst growing uncertainty, the right to self-defense is quote “the epitome of life-sustaining” and that with gun stores shuttered, Pennsylvanians are being denied Second Amendment rights to bear arms.

The Democratic governor has ordered all nonessential businesses to close their physical locations indefinitely, saying the measure is needed to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Enforcement by state police and other state and local agencies was to begin Monday morning, with violators subject to warnings, fines, license suspensions and even criminal charges.

Other states, like Illinois, have deemed gun shops essential during shutdowns.

In a dissenting statement joined by two other justices, Justice David Wecht said Wolf’s order amounts to “an absolute and indefinite prohibition upon the acquisition of firearms by the citizens of this commonwealth — a result in clear tension with the Second Amendment” and the state constitution. He called on Wolf to make some allowance for the in-person sale of firearms.

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