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America’s Gun Virus

Lobbyists for the US gun industry want gun stores to be counted as “essential” businesses, like food shops and pharmacies, that are exempted from pandemic-related closures. A number of states have readily complied.

NEW YORK – Spooked by COVID-19, Americans not only stripped supermarket shelves of toilet paper and pasta, but also drove gun sales higher than ever. Apparently, many of these recent gun buyers never purchased a firearm before.

Lobbyists for the US gun industry want gun stores to be counted as “essential” businesses, like food shops and pharmacies. A number of states have readily complied, as has the Department of Homeland Security. Jay Pritzker, Governor of Illinois, declared that “firearm and ammunition suppliers and retailers, for purposes of safety and security” should indeed be allowed to continue supplying these alleged necessities.

When it comes to guns, the rest of the world has long viewed the United States as being a little crazy. But there is something particularly odd about this latest rush to buy arms. Conservatives and gun lovers invoke history, tradition, and the late-eighteenth-century text of the US Constitution to defend their right to carry anything from a Glock G-19 pistol to the popular AR-15 assault rifle. In fact, until very recently, the common interpretation of American legal scholars was that gun-buying by individuals to “defend his or herself, their family, as well as their home, business, and property,” as Lawrence Keane, senior vice-president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, barely managed to put it, was far from the US founders’ intent.

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