COVID-19 Exposes Ineffective Gun Control

posted on June 16, 2020
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As I write this, America is still struggling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have been directly affected by the virus. And virtually every American has been impacted in some way.

Fortunately, many of the worst predictions regarding the spread of this novel Coronavirus have, thus far, been wrong. And now, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and we may soon be getting back to a more normal way of life.

That’s good news.

Perhaps also good news is that the response to COVID-19, in countless instances, has exposed the abject failures of gun-control laws.

Some of these failures were obvious, with power-hungry governors attempting to shut down gun stores and deny access by law-abiding Americans to the best means of defending their families at a time when they needed it most. Some were the consequence of existing ineffectual gun-control measures.

During the pandemic, Americans began acquiring firearms for personal protection in record numbers, even with the efforts to shut down gun transfers by anti-gun governors. 

Americans are exceptionally self-reliant. Most realize that when it comes to their own safety and the safety of their families, they are likely on their own. This is especially true at a time when government services are diminished and many state governments have decided to release criminals from prisons and jails. 

However, many new gun owners are discovering what NRA has been saying for decades; most gun-control laws only serve to create an unnecessary burden for law-abiding citizens. I have heard countless reports of first-time buyers being shocked at the bureaucratic and ineffective maze they must navigate in order to exercise their rights protected under the Second Amendment. 

Whether it is criminalizing private transfers, unnecessary waiting periods, or requiring one to obtain a government-issued permission slip, gun control is failing law-abiding Americans and diminishing the Second Amendment.

Laws like so-called “universal” background checks make law-abiding Americans dependent on government’s ability and willingness to grant permission to acquire a gun—something many governments have been unable to ensure. 

These laws also make it impossible for existing gun owners to loan firearms to those in need. With gun stores closed in some states, their residents might wish to turn to gun-owning friends and family to borrow a firearm for the duration of the crisis. But, “universal” background-check laws make such transfers illegal and leave many Americans defenseless.

This crisis has shown that Americans cannot trust government to act as a gatekeeper on their fundamental rights. The lesson is simple. We must jealously guard our rights and keep them free from government interference.​

COVID-19 is also highlighting the problems with firearms licensing in Connecticut. Under Connecticut law an individual seeking to acquire a firearm must obtain a permit to carry pistols and revolvers, an eligibility certificate to purchase a pistol or revolver, or an eligibility certificate to purchase long guns. Worse, such a permit or certificate is required to purchase ammunition in the state.

Under the best circumstances, these permits can take weeks for applicants to receive. But, due to problems created by the virus, processing times have been extended making it impossible for would-be new gun owners to exercise their rights. 

Perhaps the worst situation for gun owners has been exposed in our nation’s capital. Because of D.C.’s extremely burdensome firearms regulations, for years the District has had only one licensed firearms dealer: Charles Sykes. It isn’t difficult to imagine why having a single dealer who can lawfully assist D.C. residents in exercising their constitutional might create a problem. 

In the middle of the surge in firearm purchases driven by the virus, Mr. Sykes decided that he could no longer function as D.C.’s sole licensed dealer. This left the residents of our nation’s capital with no path to exercising their Second Amendment rights. 

Because there were no alternative dealers, the Metropolitan Police Department took the extraordinary measure of becoming a licensed firearms dealer. If my experience in getting a License to Carry with MPD is illustrative of its efficiency in processing firearm applications, D.C. residents’ rights are not going to be well served by the District’s new firearms “dealer.” 

Barriers to the peaceful exercise of a constitutional right are always bad policy. During a time of crisis in which governments cannot be counted on to carry out their duties, these policies are dangerous and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless.​

Perhaps many of these new gun owners will begin to appreciate the burden that these types of laws place on Americans’ fundamental rights. I hope they will join NRA, or at least turn to their friends in NRA for guidance as to what they can do to protect and expand their Second Amendment rights. I count on you to help them, and to remind them that the elections this November will be critical for the future of our right to keep and bear arms.


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