Gun shops are now ‘essential business’ in NJ after all
Gov. Murphy Monday made several adjustment to New Jersey's standing list of businesses considered to be "essential" under an executive order that keeps all others closed — including letting gun shops open, by appointment.
The change — also allowing limited operations for auto dealers and real estate agents — reflects updated federal guidance issued over the weekend.
After Murphy's issued executive order No. 107, State Police ordered that the system used by gun shops to conduct background checks also be shut down during the public health emergency. Most businesses are ordered close to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A memorandum issued by the federal Deptartment of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity classifies "workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges."
"It wouldn't have been my definition but that's the definition at the federal level, and I didn't get a vote on that," Murphy said Monday of the revised guidelines.
The governor said all gun safety laws would be enforced. He also reminded gun owners to keep their weapons locked in safe storage and encouraged violations to be reported to the state website.
The gun stores will be allowed to open starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
Questioned in earlier daily briefings about his now-nixed restriction on gun shops by New Jersey Second Amendment Society President Alexander Roubian, Murphy said that he had “gotten not one complaint from anybody that they were trying to buy a gun and couldn’t,” even though his office later told New Jersey 101.5 that it had received about 500 calls and emails regarding the issue.
Gun shop owners and Second Amendment advocates sued the Murphy administration in federal court, saying barring the sale of firewarms is unconstitutional.
Several Republican lawmakers across the state were also calling for a change to the order, pointing to states like Pennsylvania and Illinois, where Democratic governors allowed gun shops to continue operating during their states’ shutdowns.
Roubain, in an email to New Jersey 101.5 Monday, said he's pleased with the change but thinks it's "delicious irony that Governor Murphy sent his armed guards, which we recorded on video twice, to personally kick me out of his press conferences." His website includes a video showing State Police barring Roubain from entry to a press conference Saturday, saying only journalists with state-issued credentials would be allowed.
Murphy also said that auto dealerships would be allowed to conduct online or remote sales, and allow dealers will be allowed to deliver vehicles to their customers. Vehicles may also be picked up curbside at a dealership.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney, along with Sens. Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, and Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth, supported the change in status of dealerships and the adjustments made by Murphy.
Assemblyman Hal Wirths, R-Sussex, sees a tax benefit to allowing the sale of vehicles.
"Most of the items people are buying in the state of New Jersey now are sales-tax free, where your automobile is your largest purchase and is obviously taxable. And sales tax would come in with tremendous revenue to the treasury," Wirths told New Jersey 101.5 ahead of Murphy announcement. "And I fear that once you lose those car sales and people go to another state to purchase a car, that car dealer is not getting that back,."
Real estate agents will also be allowed to show houses on a one-on-one basis or to immediate families. Open houses will not be permitted.
Murphy reiterated that golf courses will remain closed.
Murphy also announced the state Alcohol Beverage Control has changed its policy to allow brewpubs to provide home delivery.
Michael Symons contributed to this report
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