Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion today to allow gun stores to remain open as “essential businesses” amidst the various municipal and county shelter-in-place orders.
The opinion concludes, “While municipal and county officials possess general emergency authority to control the movement of persons and the occupancy of premises in a local disaster area under Government Code section 418.108, such orders may not regulate or restrict the sale of firearms.”
With the ongoing pandemic, some local officials have issued shelter-in-place orders which restrict individuals from leaving their homes except for essential purposes.
There has been some debate if these municipalities can deem gun stores as “non-essential” businesses and force their temporary closure.
Earlier in the week, state Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) requested an opinion from Paxton on “whether or not city and or county officials can prohibit the sales of firearms by emergency declaration.”
Burrows noted that none of the orders “issued thus far have designated firearms manufacturers, firearms retailers[,] or shooting ranges as ‘essential businesses.’”
State Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) sent a letter to Paxton yesterday, requesting that he expedite an opinion on Burrows’ request.
In a press release, Paxton further explained the decision, stating, “State law provides several emergency powers to local governments to control movement within their region during a disaster, which serves our communities well during public health events like the one we’re fighting now. However, local regulation of the sale, possession, and ownership of firearms is specifically prohibited under Texas law.”
“Under our laws, every Texan retains their right to purchase and possess firearms.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.