With the growing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, every American is concerned about their safety and the safety of their loved ones. Here in Kansas, our legislature passed House Committee Resolution 5025, a measure preventing Gov. Laura Kelly from using emergency powers to seize ammunition or limit the sale of firearms during the outbreak. On behalf of every NRA member and supporter in our state, I want to thank our lawmakers for the foresight and wisdom to protect our fundamental right to self-defense with passage of this bill.
Outside of Kansas, however, the trend is troubling. Overzealous politicians are taking actions that will leave law-abiding citizens defenseless at a time when safety and security is critical to each and every American.
Closing gun stores, as New Jersey’s governor has done, not only prohibits law-abiding citizens from purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer, in many states it also prohibits them from purchasing or borrowing a firearm from a private party. That’s because New Jersey is one of the states with a so-called “universal” background check law which mandates that virtually any firearm transfer, even between friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers, must go through a licensed dealer. With gun stores closed, those who want to borrow or buy a firearm to defend themselves or their loved ones are unable to do so.
But it doesn’t end at New Jersey. Sheriffs in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina have announced they will no longer process concealed carry permit applications during the COVID-19 crisis. If these states had a constitutional carry law like Kansas, their citizens would be secure in knowing that their ability to defend themselves was not reliant on the individual whims of local or statewide officials. The NRA has succeeded in passing constitutional carry laws in 16 states. In those states, no one's fundamental right to self-defense is in jeopardy in a time of crisis.
In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, law enforcement went door-to-door confiscating firearms. The NRA successfully sued the city and followed up by championing legislation to prevent government officials from using their “emergency powers” as a pretext for disarming the citizenry. As a result, President George W. Bush signed a measure that prohibits persons acting under color of federal law, receiving federal funds, or acting at the direction of a federal employee from seizing or authorizing the seizure of lawfully-possessed firearms during a state of emergency. The majority of U.S. states, including Kansas, now have similar laws to prevent state and local officials from using “emergency powers” as a pretext to infringe on our firearms freedom. And even in the absence of such laws, the Second Amendment applies by its own force.
The NRA remains focused on changing state and federal laws so that no one has to fear for their personal safety in a time of crisis, or ever. We are monitoring and working to resolve these issues with all options – legal, legislative, and otherwise – on the table. In the meantime, let’s all do our part to stay safe and thank Kansas lawmakers for passing good legislation to protect our rights.
Travis Couture-Lovelady is the NRA Kansas State Director. He is a former Kansas State Representative from Palco and lives in Hays.