You would think that with a situation as serious as the current COVID-19 pandemic facing U.S. citizens, all politicians at each level of government would be working to do what is best for their constituents.
And if you thought that, you’d be wrong. Cynical anti-gun politicians that use the pandemic to further their gun-control goals are particularly vile, in my opinion. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of such gun-haters out there in charge of our cities and states.
Here are five examples of public officials who have done just that during this difficult time in America’s history.
1. Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Mayor, Jackson, Mississippi
Earlier this week, in response to the murders of two children, Mayor Lumumba signed an executive order temporarily suspending open carry of firearms for Jackson residents, even though open carry is permitted under Mississippi law.
“Many of these killings could have been avoided if we had state law that enabled us to better control the presence of firearms on our streets,” Lumumba said. “Prior to the open carry law, when Jackson officers saw a gun in plain view it gave them the probable cause to cease [sic] the weapon and determine whether it was an illegal weapon or not.”
Based on that statement, the mayor’s misunderstanding of armed self-defense is nearly astounding. Since his executive order, the action has been widely criticized, and the Mississippi Justice Institute has filed a lawsuit against Lumumba.
2. Jay Pritzker, Governor, Illinois
Just last week, Pritzker outlawed concealed carry in the Land of Lincoln by issuing an executive order that Illinois residents wear a mask in certain situations. The order stated, “Wearing a face covering in public places or when working. Any individual who is over age 2 and able to medically tolerate a face-covering (a mask or cloth face-covering) shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings are required in public indoor spaces such as stores.”
At the same time, Section 24-1 of the carry statute, focusing on unlawful use of weapons, states: “(a) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he knowingly: (9) Carries or possesses in a vehicle or on or about his or her person any pistol, revolver, stun gun or taser or firearm or ballistic knife, when he or she is hooded, robed or masked in such manner as to conceal his or her identity.” Violating the statute is a Class 4 felony.
3. Ralph Northam, Governor, Virginia
At the height of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, a masked Northam signed into law five new laws that greatly restrict the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. Among other things, the measures required background checks for all gun transfers, limit gun purchases to one gun a month and put into effect a dangerous “red flag law” that is sure to violate the constitutional rights of many Virginians in the future.
One of the measures, which allows local governments to institute their own gun-ban schemes, is gaining close scrutiny from the Virginia Citizens Defense League. Northam is expected to push even more restrictive measures in the upcoming session.
4. Kate Snyder, Mayor, Portland, Maine
Back in mid-April, Snyder and the Portland City Council adopted an order that replaced the list of “essential” businesses previously authorized by the city. The new order stated, “Gun shops shall not be considered an essential business or service within the City of Portland.”
The new law directly conflicted with the list of essential business published by the state governor. It also blatantly defied the state’s preemption law, which prevents local government from enacting gun-control ordinances, thereby creating a confusing patchwork of local laws.
Fortunately for Portland gun owners, just this week the mayor and council adopted a new ordinance removing the illegal classification of gun shops as “non-essential.”
5. Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, California
Becerra recently cited the COVID-19 crisis as his excuse to extend the time before hearings must be held for those targeted by that state’s red flag law. California’s law concerning so-called “Gun Violence Restraining Orders” allows the government to confiscate a law-abiding citizen’s firearms without due process of law. Under the unconstitutional law, a full hearing, where the accused can be represented by counsel and be heard by a judge, must be held within 21 days.
Under Becerra’s latest order, the time before a hearing must be held was extended by another 90 days. That means a law-abiding California gun owner could have his guns confiscated by the state government and not even be able to contest the merits of the original Gun Violence Restraining Order for four months!
Gun owners and other Second Amendment advocates should always watch how politicians treat their rights during emergency situations. If your representative at any level used the COVID-19 pandemic to whittle away at your right to keep and bear arms, he or she should be voted out of office at the very next opportunity.
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.