Firearms dealers are ‘essential’ to public safety, governor told

VANCOUVER… It’s a mistake for licensed firearms dealers across Washington to be forcibly closed while the governor’s open-ended March 23 stay-at-home order is in place, Sen. Lynda Wilson says. Today she delivered letters to Gov. Jay Inslee from state lawmakers and law-enforcement leaders explaining why convenient access to firearms and ammunition should be viewed as essential to supporting law-enforcement agencies and security services, and Washington residents who want to protect their families and property.

One letter was signed by 46 state lawmakers; 11 county sheriffs and three police chiefs are among the 15 law-enforcement officers signing the other. Each explains how leaving licensed firearm dealers off Washington’s list of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers threatens the safety of thousands of Washington citizens, especially in rural areas where “local law enforcement cannot appear instantly in response to every threat.” It also points out how there’s no remote or online alternative for people who must complete a background check administered through a licensed firearms dealer as part of acquiring a firearm.

“Some things don’t stop because of COVID-19, and unfortunately, one of those is crime. Governor Inslee can’t assume criminals will honor his stay-at-home order – he’s aware that a state trooper gave his life on Tuesday while trying to apprehend a suspected criminal who obviously wasn’t staying home,” said Wilson, R-Vancouver.

“How inconsistent is it that the coronavirus is being used as a reason to release jail inmates from custody prematurely and, at the same time, to essentially ration the tools needed to maintain law and order and protect public safety?”

The letter to Inslee also notes how the lack of public access to licensed firearms dealers infringes on the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 24 of the state constitution.

“The constitutional argument should be enough by itself, but the other reasons for including licensed firearms dealers on the ‘essential’ list are even more compelling, especially considering that the governor’s stay-at-home order has no official end,” Wilson said.

“I’ll give the governor the benefit of the doubt, as he may not have been fully aware of the role of licensed firearms dealers in supplying law-enforcement agencies and security companies and meeting the personal-security needs of Washington. I expect our letter will clear that up and we will see them added to the essential-business list.”

Click here for the letter from lawmakers

Click here for the letter from law-enforcement officers