News & Politics

Judge Orders Massachusetts Gun Shops to Reopen, But Imposes Unfair Restrictions

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Gun shops in Massachusetts are officially open after a federal judge found that state officials overstepped their bounds by ordering their businesses closed and deemed non-essential. 

U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock ordered gun shops to be opened and said Governor Charlie Baker’s order to close gun shops without an explanation of the reason created an “improper burden,” according to The Boston Globe.

The order comes with limitations, however, that some gun shop owners still find burdensome: limiting their customers to four per hour and all must have an appointment. They are required to practice social distancing, wear masks, and stay six feet apart, according to the order handed down last Thursday.

This is in contrast to how other retailers like Walmart are allowed to operate and this makes the gun shop owners upset.

Toby Leary, the co-owner of Cape Gun Works in Hyannis, was one of the owners involved in the federal lawsuit against the governor. Leary told The Globe he was pleased the Second Amendment is not suspended during a time of emergency but is not happy with the added restrictions.

Leary, of Cape Gun Works, praised Woodlock’s decision. But Leary said the restrictions the judge imposed makes him feel that gun retailers are still being treated differently than other businesses.

Restrictions on the number of sales might make sense for smaller gun retailers, Leary said, but is an unnecessary limit on a business that has plenty of room for staff and customers to socially distance.

Cape Gun Works employs more than 20 full- and part-time staff, and operates out of a roughly 20,000-square-foot facility, including 5,000 square feet of retail space, Leary said.

Before the shutdown, Cape Gun Works was making about 100 to 200 sales daily, Leary said in a phone interview Saturday. The way Woodlock structured his judicial order hamstrings Leary’s business, the shop owner said.

“We are being treated like second-class citizens because we sell guns, we have to jump through more hoops…. I think that was what the state was after, and the judge acquiesced in this area,” Leary said. “We’re happy to be open, it’s been a long five weeks. But we feel that it is treating us differently.”

Leary told PJ Media, “We can’t go on like this for very long. We went from 100 to 200 transactions a day to 30. It’s painful.” Other retailers like Home Depot or Walmart are allowed many more people than that per hour and Leary doesn’t understand why they can’t operate under the same rules as other essential businesses. “It feels like this is about control now,” he said.

Leary said the gun shop retailers will be paying close attention to the phased reopening and if the restrictions aren’t lifted soon they may have to take more action. “We are booked every hour with our maximum number of customers,” he said. “We are definitely throttled because of the restrictions.”

Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter

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