New York, NY, April 2, 2020 – Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors announced today that its client, the National Rifle Association of America (“NRA”), filed suit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of Economic Development, and New York State Department of Economic Development Acting Commissioner, President, and CEO Eric Gertler in response to the state’s attack on the rights of New York citizens and residents to exercise their Second Amendment freedoms.
The lawsuit focuses on Executive Order 202.8, issued by Gov. Cuomo on March 20, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. According to the lawsuit, that order “effectively and indefinitely suspended a key component of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution – shutting down all gun stores in the State of New York, including federally licensed gun stores, by deeming them ‘non-essential’ businesses.” Under the order, “essential” businesses are permitted to remain open. According to the NRA, the order had the intended effect of eliminating the only way of legally purchasing firearms in the state.
“There isn’t a single person who has ever used a gun for self-defense who would consider it nonessential,” said Wayne LaPierre, NRA CEO & Executive Vice President. “This is clearly another assault by Gov. Cuomo on the NRA, on the rights of New Yorkers to defend themselves and their families, and on our Second Amendment freedoms. The NRA will continue to fight all such attacks until Gov. Cuomo recognizes that constitutional rights are for every New Yorker and every American – and not just for politicians and their privileged friends.”
Filed on April 2, 2020, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, the lawsuit states, “Reasonable steps to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus do not include the suspension of the Second Amendment. Plaintiff asks the Court to declare that the Second Amendment right to bear arms requires that citizens and residents of New York be afforded reasonable access to purchase firearms and ammunition, and to prohibit Defendants from needlessly forcing gun stores to remain closed.”
“The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution, in part, to give Americans the ability to defend themselves and their families,” said William A. Brewer III, counsel for the NRA and partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors. “The current public health emergency does not justify the complete elimination of this right, especially during a time when many New Yorkers have valid concerns about their physical safety and welfare. Our client believes that Gov. Cuomo is again weaponizing the power of his office – to prevent gun owners from exercising the rights to which they are entitled.”
The NRA has approximately 5 million members.
As stated in the lawsuit, on March 28, 2020, the United States Department of Homeland Security issued a list of critical infrastructure “intended to help State, local, tribal and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.” This list of critical infrastructure includes: “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.”
In the wake of this guidance, a litany of states and municipalities clarified that gun stores are “essential.” For example, on March 30, 2020, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that gun stores will be classified as “essential businesses” and allowed to reopen.
Gov. Murphy stated, “In accordance with the guidance released over the weekend by the federal Department of Homeland Security, we will allow firearms sellers to operate.”
Unfortunately, New York refused to clarify or reexamine its position as it relates to gun stores. However, liquor stores remain “essential businesses” under the governor’s order last month.
Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Click here to follow NRA-ILA on Facebook.