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April 1, 2020

Massachusetts Governor Opens, Then Closes ‘Essential Critical’ Gun Retail

Gov. Charlie Baker Quietly Lifted Restrictions, Only to Reverse Course.

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker closed federally licensed firearm dealers after briefly listing them open as “essential” services. The move effectively denies Massachusetts residents of their Second Amendment civil rights, under the guise of emergency health orders.

Gov. Baker quietly updated the Bay State’s COVID-19 guidance to mirror the updated guidance published by the Department of Homeland Security, listing firearm manufacturing, distribution and retailers as “essential critical infrastructure” that should remain open during the coronavirus pandemic. The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearm and ammunition industry, alerted Massachusetts member retailers of the updated state guidance. Just hours later though, Gov. Baker reversed course, ordering firearm retailers closed. The language that originally included firearm retailers and ranges was struck and no longer appears on the guidance.

When NSSF inquired about the reversal, the answer received was “to keep as many people home as possible.” That doesn’t align with other businesses allowed to remain open in Massachusetts as essential. Gov. Baker’s order keeps liquor stores open yet denies law-abiding citizens the ability to lawfully purchase firearms for self-protection, a Constitutionally-protected individual civil right.

“This antipathy for the right of Massachusetts citizens to protect themselves is alarming,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for NSSF. “Every other governor in New England is permitting their citizens the right to acquire a firearm. Even the governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania have now recognized the limits of their authority to infringe on fundamental American rights and reversed course. Gov. Baker’s using a health crisis to further an antigun agenda that denies Americans their rights is inexcusable.”

Gov. Baker’s antigun bias is well documented and also recently extended to denying firearm retailers he forced to be closed from accessing emergency small business loans. Gov. Baker listed firearm-related businesses as ineligible for the aid yet denies them by force of order from operating their businesses. The NSSF is calling upon Gov. Baker to respect the Constitution, follow the Department of Homeland Security’s guidance as have other governors and allow federally licensed firearm retailers to be open as essential businesses.

An individual’s choice to exercise the right to keep and bear arms begins with the ability to access the gun counter. When governments issue emergency orders to block that access, it cannot be considered anything less than an outright denial of rights. Firearm retailers across the country are operating within CDC guidelines, enforcing social distancing guidance, cleaning and sanitizing common surfaces and taking additional measures to safeguard the health of their employees and their customers, as has been strongly recommended by NSSF.


About NSSF
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, log on to


Media contact:
Mark Oliva
202-220-1340 ext. 204

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