Firearms Retailers Allowed to Operate in NJ by Appointment Only, Says Murphy


Confronted with critics, the Office of Governor Phil Murphy today issued an administrative order clarifying which businesses may be allowed to operate to ensure social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis. The order reflects an updating to bring Murphy’s statewide order into accord with Federal Department of Homeland Security guidelines – speciffically as the order pertains to gun sales.

“We will allow firearms retailers to operate by appointment only and during limited hours to conduct business which must be conucted in person,” said Murphy, who sparred in recent days with 2nd Amendment advocates who opposed his decision at the state level to close gun distributors.

“We are going this in light of federal guidance,” the governor added. “It wouldn’t have been my definition but it is the defnition at the federal level and I didn’t get a vote on that.”

Gun sales will be allowed starting tomorrow at 8 a.m., according to Governor’s Counsel Matt Platkin.

Conservative state Senator Mike Testa (R-1) celebrated what he cited as the righting of a wrong.

Testa, right and Andrzejczak

“I am pleased that Gov. Murphy is finally recognizing and honoring our constitutional right to bear arms, especially amid this State of Emergency,” said Testa. “The Second Amendment is essential to all law-abiding citizens, particularly for increased safety, security, and self-protection. New Jerseyans’ rights to purchase a firearm should have never been infringed upon in the first place. We are proud that New Jersey will ensure citizens are lawfully able to practice their Second Amendment right.”

On March 25, Testa called on Murphy to add gun stores to the lists of essential retail businesses that are allowed to remain open during the current state of emergency due to the coronavirus.

Last week, InsiderNJ columnist Fred Snowflack wrote about the governor’s sparring match with 2nd Amendment advocates at his news briefing:

The governor retorted that the questioner, who was Alex “Alejandro” Roubian, should not be at the briefing because he isn’t an actual journalist.

A quick online check shows that Roubian certainly writes pieces on his website. Then again, the New Jersey Second Amendment Society does not appear to be a genuine news organization.

The governor said briefings are for legitimate reporters only. No matter, calling himself a “nice guy,” Murphy permitted Roubian to again ask about the closing of gun shops.

The governor responded that he had “nothing to add” to his position that gun stores are not essential.

At today’s briefing, the governor added other clarifcations that are part of his morning’s clarified rules, including allowing auto dealers to conduct remote sales; and realtors to show houses on a one-on-one basis.

Also, golf courses will remain closed, Murphy added.

The governor’s office later issued the following release:

Governor Murphy and Superintendent Callahan Announce Updates and Clarifications to List of Businesses Permitted to Operate

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy and Superintendent of the State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan today announced an Administrative Order amending which businesses are permitted to operate and clarifying ways in which some businesses may operate in accordance with Executive Order No. 107. The Administrative Order states the following:

  • Individual appointments to view real estate with realtors by individuals or families shall be considered essential retail business. Open houses are still considered impermissible gatherings.
  • Car dealers may continue to conduct online sales or remote sales that are consistent with current law. In the event of such a sale, the car may be delivered to the purchaser or the purchaser can pick up the car curbside or in the dealership service lane.
  • In accordance with the guidance released by the federal Department of Homeland Security, effective Tuesday, March 31, at 8:00 a.m., firearms retailers are permitted to operate – by appointment only and during limited hours – to conduct business which, under law, must be done in person. The NICS background check system will be up and running to process firearms purchases.
  • Golf courses are considered recreational and entertainment businesses that must close to the public and to members associated with private golf clubs.

“While we’ve made adjustments to businesses that are permitted to operate, my stay-at-home order remains firmly in effect,” said Governor Murphy. “Unless you absolutely need to get out, or unless your job is critical to our response, I have ordered all New Jerseyans to just stay home.”

“As we face this unprecedented challenge, businesses must be flexible in how they operate in order to keep the State’s economy running,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “While these clarifications address the need for certain businesses to operate, the safety of our residents will always remain our top priority.”

The Order takes effect immediately.

A copy of the Administrative Order can be found here.

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