On March 13th President Trump issued an emergency declaration for all states and territories of the United States. The declaration was made pursuant to section 501(b) of the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act. Several state governors and local mayors have also issued emergency declarations for their jurisdictions. These declarations are necessary to initiate financial aid and other emergency services. There is concern, however, that some of the provisions of these declarations infringe upon the Second Amendment.
Local Governments Issue Emergency Declarations
On Friday March 13th the mayor of New Orleans, LA issued an emergency declaration that gives city official the right to limit or completely ban the transportation or sale of firearms, combustibles, and explosives. Controversial firearm restrictions are not new to New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city confiscated legally owned firearms under the guise of public safety. A federal court eventually ordered the city to stop the confiscations.
The city of Champaign, IL issued an emergency declaration the same day that includes similar powers. The following day the city released a statement meant to clarify the order and ease concerns. The statement reads, “To be extremely clear, only provisions that are necessary to protect the public health in this situation will be enacted. The City Council would never take an action to violate anyone’s civil liberties, it is unfortunate that the action taken by City Council to protect the community has been misconstrued in a time when we need clear, accurate information to protect public health.” The statement can be found here.
The national emergency declaration issued by the President does not contain any such specific provisions. It does however give a wide range of powers to the government. These include the ability to limit almost every activity of an individual or business, in effect giving them the power to shutdown gun and ammunition sales should they chose to. The Stafford Act does offer one positive point for gun owners. It specifically prohibits the confiscation of legally owned firearms and the formation of a registration unless required by Federal, State, or local law.
Gun and Ammunition Sales Soar
The far-reaching nature of these provisions are naturally causing concern among lawful gun owners. By Sunday morning gun stores, including large retailers like Cabela’s, reported being sold out of several calibers of ammunition. Locations are working with their staff and distributors to restock as quickly as possible. Some sellers have implemented restrictions on the number of boxes purchased in a day. Even with the efforts, supplies are low and there is some evidence of price gouging.
Gun sales have also spiked in recent days. Gun dealers around the country are reporting sales are up anywhere between 50% and 400% in some locations. The most purchased items include shotguns, AR15s, and handguns. Existing gun owners report fear of new restrictions as driving their new purchases. Many of the sales are to first time gun buyers, however, who report fear of looting and violence should shortages of food and other consumables get worse. Buyers should get training and educate themselves no matter the motivation.
This is an ever-changing time for our country. Gun owners should remain vigilant to efforts by local and state officials to limit Second Amendment rights. Primer Peak is monitoring things and will share updates and new information as we are able.