The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Sunday night denied an emergency request that would have blocked a gubernatorial order mandating the closure of gun retailers in response to the novel coronavirus.
The order to shut down gun stores was part of a larger plan set forth by the state’s Democratic governor, Tom Wolf, mandating the closure of businesses not deemed “life-sustaining.” Gun-rights advocates asked the state’s Supreme Court to block the order as it applied to gun retailers, but the seven-member court denied the request.
The court’s decision comes as Pennsylvanians and Americans more broadly have flooded gun stores. Industry officials said sales had spiked as much as 300 percent last week due to concerns of relaxed law enforcement during the outbreak and some retailers even reported running out of stock—at least temporarily. While the first states to implement aggressive shutdown measures have split on whether they would include gun stores, the country’s top gun-rights groups have threatened more legal action.
With plenty of states issuing emergency orders closing all manner of “nonessential” businesses, this is starting to sound like a case where an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States might be in order. The reason I say this is that we have different courts ruling in opposite directions on the subject. New Jersey and now Pennsylvania have closed their gun shops while Illinois declared them essential services and allowed them to remain open. New York’s gun stores are also closed. As the coronavirus spreads into more red states, we’ll no doubt see more exceptions being made.