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Newhouse Defends 2nd Amendment, Introduces Legislation to Designate Firearms Industry Workers as “Essential”

June 22, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) introduced the Second Amendment is Essential Act. This legislation would categorize the firearms industry as a critical infrastructure sector and those it employs as critical infrastructure workers.

“It is always unconstitutional for government to restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners, but to do so in the midst of a crisis is especially unconscionable. By denying Federal Firearms Licensees the ability to operate under “essential worker” designations, Governors across the country, including Jay Inslee, have not only infringed on the Second Amendment rights of Americans, but have recklessly tied the hands of our law enforcement officers who require access to these tools to ensure the safety of our communities,” said Rep. Newhouse. “This legislation protects law-abiding citizens’ ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights and prevents future anti-gun restrictions that restrict lawful access to firearms in times of emergency.”

Quotes from supporting organizations are below.

“The firearm industry is deeply appreciative of the leadership and commitment of Congressman Newhouse to ensure the men and women in our industry can deliver for law-abiding American citizens without interference under the guise of a declared health emergency or disaster. This is exactly what happened in last year’s COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns. Politicians overreached on their authority and were only forced back under the threat of legal action. This necessary legislation is critical to prevent an administration that is hostile to lawful firearm ownership from using an emergency declaration to shutter the industry and deny Americans the ability to approach the gun counter. That’s where Second Amendment rights begin – when those who obey the law make the decision to lawfully purchase a firearm. Congressman Newhouse is making that access to gun ownership inviolable,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“The way many anti-gun politicians reacted to the COVID-19 crisis was proof these politicians will exploit any opportunity to push their agenda.  Last year, we fought numerous attempts by lawmakers and regulators to shut down firearms retailers and keep them closed, limiting Americans’ ability to protect themselves when they felt most vulnerable. The Second Amendment is Essential Act of 2021 makes it clear the firearms industry and its workers are to be deemed “essential” in any future emergency proclamations. On behalf of our 5 million members, we thank Rep. Dan Newhouse for putting forward a bill to protect the industry and law-abiding gun owners’ right to self-defense from future attacks in times of national distress,” said Jason Ouimet, Executive Director, NRA-ILA.

“Rep. Newhouse’s legislation clarifies that the government has no authority to infringe upon the essential role that Federal Firearms License holders fulfill in maintaining the right to keep and bear arms—such as during a pandemic and nationwide civil unrest. It is unconscionable to subject our constitutionally-protected rights to the whimsical “health” concerns of anti-gun politicians and bureaucrats. Congress can never allow these failed gun laws to harm American gun owners again,” said Aidan Johnston, Director of Federal Affairs, Gun Owners of America.

“Our officers must have the necessary tools to train and perform their duties to ensure the safety of our communities. The Second Amendment is Essential Act of 2021 would reduce the long wait times for firearms and ammunition that those in the law enforcement profession are currently experiencing by preventing state governments from enacting arbitrary, anti-gun restrictions,” said Kevin Fuhr, Police Chief, City of Moses Lake.

“I strongly support the Second Amendment is Essential Act of 2021. Governors across the country, including Jay Inslee, have used the COVID-19 pandemic as justification to disregard our Founding Fathers’ intent to preserve our right to keep and bear arms, excluding those in the firearms industry from “essential worker” designations. This legislation will ensure that the Second Amendment can be freely enjoyed by Americans when they need it most: in times of crisis,” said Jerome Delvin, Benton County Commissioner, District 1.

“As legislative representatives, it is our sacred charge to protect and ensure a free Nation with the same deliberate care and deep concern for preserving the individual right to Freedom and Liberty our founding fathers possessed. "Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors." [James Madison] The global pandemic of our time has brought renewed awareness of our individual vulnerabilities and a heightened awareness for self-preservation, a reminder of the same circumstances present during the birth of our Nation. I stand in resolute support of the essential nature of the creation of arms which makes possible every citizen's right to bear arms,” said Amanda McKinney, Yakima County Commissioner, District 1.

Original cosponsors include:
Reps. Madison Cawthorn, Doug LaMalfa, Chris Stewart, Don Young, C. Scott Franklin, Jefferson Van Drew, Matt Gaetz, Yvette Herrell, Tracey Mann, Liz Cheney, Randy K. Weber, Sr., Dan Crenshaw, Doug Lamborn, Bill Johnson, Ralph Norman, Markwayne Mullin, David G. Valadao, Jody B. Hice, Thomas P. Tiffany, Dusty Johnson, Ted Budd, Pete Sessions, Andy Harris, Tom McClintock, Dan Bishop, Tom Emmer, Alexander X. Mooney, and Claudia Tenney.

Click here to read the full text of the bill.
Click here for a one pager on the bill.

Background:

  • The Homeland Security Act of 2002 directed the Administrator of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish guidelines for States regarding who should constitute “critical infrastructure workers” in the event of a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have often referred to these individuals as “essential workers.”
  • Similarly, the USA Patriot Act defined “critical infrastructure” as “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.”
  • In 2020, gun sales increased by 64% as Americans sought to exercise their Second Amendment right so they could have peace of mind during such a turbulent time. Nevertheless, Governors across the country, including Jay Inslee, have used the COVID-19 pandemic as justification to disregard the founders’ intent to preserve the right to bear arms, excluding Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLS) from “essential worker” designations.

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