Gun stores allowed to conduct business in parking lots, via drive-up windows amid coronavirus pandemic
In this March 15 photo, people wait in line to enter a gun store in Culver City, Calif.(Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)
Gun store owners are allowed to take sales into their parking lots while safety concerns force businesses to shift into new routines as coronavirus continues its quick spread across the United States.
In a new guidance to federally licensed firearm retailers, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives on Friday said dealers can conduct business outside of the store as long as they own the property. The new rules were issued in response to questions raised amid store closures prompted by the global pandemic, which has ground the economy to a near standstill.
According to the directive, “a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer may engage in the firearms or ammunition business for which the business is licensed on any part of its business premises, provided that the activity otherwise complies with all applicable federal laws and regulations.”
That means dealers can set up temporary booths in their parking lots and provide service through drive-up windows at their shop for as long as they are licensed. Transactions may not however, be carried out from “a nearby space” that is not part of the dealers’ property — unless they are participating in qualified gun shows.
There has been some debate nationwide about whether gun dealerships and stores should be allowed to remain open as most nonessential companies close their doors amid the worldwide health crisis.
Gun shops remain in operation across all states except Massachusetts, New York and Washington. Elsewhere, firearm sales have skyrocketed.
The FBI last month reported 3.7 million background checks, the most in a single month since the launch of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in 1998.
The March numbers surged past the previous one-month high of 3.3 million checks, which was in December 2015.