COVID-19 Sends the Right to Bear Arms into a State of Emergency

Among the circumstances where you may feel particularly inclined to carry a firearm in public for self-defense, the threat of widespread civil unrest likely ranks high on the list for many. Although the number of people permitted in the United States is at an all-time high, it still represents only a small segment of the population; for many, the desire isn’t exigent day-to-day, for reasons that vary from person-to-person. So what if, as one of these individuals, you wanted to obtain your license to carry under current circumstances?

In some places across the country, the answer that some citizens are hearing is simply: “No.”

One example comes from the Erie County Sheriff’s in Pennsylvania, where the Sheriffs made a public post on their Facebook page announcing they would not be processing permits during the declared state of emergency:

This leaves Pennsylvanians with only a few options; they can break the law, and carry without a permit to do so–an option that some may opt for if the situation is desperate enough. They can open-carry, permissible without a concealed carry permit under PA law with some exceptions, and run the risk of interactions with police or other unwanted attention during a period of heightened anxiety; or they could simply go without. All of PA’s decent gun laws mean nothing if they cannot help citizens defend themselves in the most critical moments.

Pennsylvanian Sheriffs are likely being truthful and simply looking to reduce the vectors for infection, in an effort to prevent their Deputies and staff from getting sick–increasingly important, given that they’re critical to maintaining order pursuant the Governor’s emergency declaration. However, the same situation that makes the health and well-being of Sheriffs critical is of parallel (or greater) importance to the citizenry. Preventing the population from lawfully carrying firearms is unbecoming of an entity that has no legal requirement to protect that population.

Examples like these are precisely why permitless concealed carry needs to become the norm, and why we will continually push for it in Utah until it passes. However, until then we highly recommend obtaining a Utah concealed weapons permit. Your right to carry a gun for self-defense shouldn’t end when the emergency begins.