Licensed gun stores can do drive-thru sales of firearms or sell them out of their parking lots, the Trump administration said Friday in new guidance designed to facilitate purchases without forcing buyers to enter confined establishments during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said it will let licensed dealers sell anywhere on their own property, including drive-up or take-away windows, and from tables on the premises.
All the necessary paperwork and background check processing can also happen there, the agency said.
The only demand is that the required records from transactions still be stored safely inside the building.
Selling at a nearby location besides the exact address listed for the dealer’s license is a no-no though, the ATF said, other than the regular exceptions for gun shows.
Curtis W. Gilbert, acting assistant director of enforcement at ATF, said the Gun Control Act has always applied to a “business premises,” and isn’t limited to the interior of a building.
“In light of these and other provisions of the GCA, a licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer may, in qualifying circumstances, carry out the requested activities on any part of the business premises, including the exterior of the brick-and-mortar structure, provided, the activity otherwise complies with all applicable” federal, state and local rules, Mr. Gilbert said.
Firearms sales have been one of the flashpoints of the crisis. A number of liberal jurisdictions have deemed gun stores to be “non-essential” businesses, which makes them subject to the same shutdown orders as shopping malls, theaters and hair salons.
The goal of the shutdowns is to limit in-person gatherings where the coronavirus might be spread.
Lawsuits have been filed against a number of those shutdown orders, arguing they violate the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Gun owners say they can’t exercise that right if they can’t purchase a firearm or ammunition.
Those complaints got a boost from the Homeland Security Department, which has issued guidance deeming firearms dealers essential.