The governor of Massachusetts attempted to close gun stores in his state because of the coronavirus, but a federal judge just shot him down.
The judge ruled Thursday that Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, had placed an unjustified burden on the Constitutional right of Massachusetts residents, Breitbart reported. The decision marks a victory for civil libertarians who are concerned about government overreach in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Judge rules against governor
According to Breitbart, the Trump administration had listed gun stores as “essential” in their coronavirus response guidelines, but that didn’t stop Gov. Baker from classifying them as “non-essential” in his shutdown order, causing a group of gun store owners and Second Amendment advocates to file suit.
The aggrieved parties have now had their day in court, and the judge sided in their favor, holding that the governor went too far in limiting the right to self-defense guaranteed by the Second Amendment. U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock found that the executive order’s ban on gun stores had no relevance with respect to actually fighting the virus, according to the Boston Globe.
“There’s no justification here between the goals of the emergency declared by the Commonwealth and the burdening of the constitutional rights of the defendants in this narrow area,” Judge Woodlock said.
The Second Amendment Foundation, which filed the lawsuit, hailed the judge’s ruling, Breitbart reported.
“We are delighted at the decision by U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock and the swiftness with which it was reached. Constitutional rights are never put on hold because of an emergency, including the outbreak of a virus. Too many elected officials think otherwise, and we’re having to deal with them one lawsuit a time, same as we’re taking on Governor Baker,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the group.
The judge ruled that gun stores, upon opening up, must implement social distancing practices and that business must be conducted by appointment only, according to Boston CBS affiliate WBZ-TV. On Saturday, gun stores were clear to open again, although some shop owners expressed discontent with the fact that their businesses were targeted in the first place, Masslive.com reported.
“We’re just happy to be able to open,” said Toby Leary, co-owner of Cape Gun Works and a party to the lawsuit. “I’m sad it really took suing the government to get there for something that seemed so obvious to us.”
With anger rising against lockdowns, many Americans have complained about the seemingly arbitrary distinctions between “essential” and “nonessential” business. Many have said that churches, gun stores, and other institutions have been singled out unfairly, as establishments such as liquor stores and pot dispensaries remain open.
As for Gov. Baker, he said that he will “comply with whatever” the judge’s order mandates.
Good on this judge for upholding the Constitution. The rights of Americans are not up for grabs.