Photo courtesy of NSSF
With COVID-19 fears sweeping the nation, gun-store owners had some questions. As in, to reduce the chances of customers and shop employees getting and spreading the virus, could gun shops do business in more open-air settings like their parking lots? And maybe offer drive-thru services to their customers?
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade organization for the shooting sports industry, posed these questions to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The answers NSSF received? Yes, and yes.
This sent the anti-Second Amendment types into a frenzy of misinformation, exaggeration and outright falsehoods.
The Brady Campaign, for example, tweeted, “Now, the ATF is promoting them [gun stores] to operate ‘drive-through’ windows. Let’s be clear, gun stores are NOT McDonald's. You shouldn’t be able to buy an AR-15 like you do a burger and fries.”
In a press release that followed, Brady’s President Kris Brown claimed the ATF guidance “circumvents established safety procedures and long-standing protocols with the sole purpose of indulging the gun industry. Its provisions are patently unsafe.”
The fast food comparison was apparently too good to let go, too. The press release continued, “The [Trump] Administration has used broad interpretations of the federal Gun Control Act to suggest that FFLs conduct business at a drive-by or walk-up window, as if they were a McDonalds, or at a temporary table or booth, as if they were a lemonade stand, removing the protective influence that responsible gun dealers can have on stopping the proliferation of crime guns and on educating gun owners about the risks of guns and how to mitigate them.”
The Brady message was a lot of hype and fury, and while one would hope this false message signified nothing, a compliant mainstream media pushed the fantasy that anyone could simply drive up to their nearest guns shop’s drive-through window, order an AR-15 and a case of ammo to go, and hit the road minutes later.
In truth, the ATF advised gun-shop owners that they could, under current federal laws, handle business transactions in their parking lots—as long as those parking lots were owned by the gun shops. Likewise, shops could also use drive-up windows to take and deliver orders.
However, in all cases, federal and state laws would have to be followed, including customers filling out the needed forms and having federal background checks done.
ATF laid out all this in an Open Letter to Federal Firearms License holders, posted on April 10, 2020, and signed by Curtis W. Gilbert, ATF’s Acting Assistant Director Enforcement Programs and Services. In short, the ATF determined that, “pursuant to the Gun Control Act (GCA) and its implementing regulations, a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer may engage in the firearms or ammunition business for which the business is licensed on any part of its business premises, provided that the activity otherwise complies with all applicable federal laws and regulations, and any sale, delivery, or disposition would not violate any State law or published ordinance applicable at the place of sale, delivery, or other disposition.”
The ATF did not change or alter the rules and laws regarding the purchase of firearms. Yet, that didn’t stop longtime gun-control advocate Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) from following the Brady lead.
“The Trump administration already has endangered our public safety by designating gun stores as essential critical infrastructure during this pandemic,” Sen. Markey claimed in a press release issued from his office. “Amidst the surge in gun sales due to coronavirus-related anxiety, instead of issuing guidance instructing dealers to wait for completed background checks before transferring firearms, the Trump administration weighed in to allow firearms dealers to conduct business in parking lot booths and drive-through windows. This guidance looks like it was ghostwritten by the NRA.”
Maybe this response should not be surprising given Markey’s long-standing hostility towards the Second Amendment. Still, you’d hope an elected official, especially one serving as a U.S. Senator, would at least get the facts straight when federal laws are being discussed.