The Trump administration says gun shops should be considered essential businesses and stay open through the pandemic

People wait in a line to enter a gun store in Culver City, Calif., March 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

The Trump administration has decided that gun stores, shooting ranges, and weapons manufacturers should be considered "essential" businesses amid nationwide shutdowns over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance was issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Saturday, adding to a list that already included hospitals, pharmacies, and grocery stores.
The agency said its list was not a national mandate but said it was issued as guidance for local and state governments when deciding their own lists of essential and nonessential businesses.

CISA says on its website that the list can be used as an advisory while local governments "work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security" during the pandemic.

The list's addition of firearm businesses was met with criticism from gun control groups and praise from gun rights advocacy groups.

Brady, a nonprofit that advocates against gun violence, has issued a Freedom of Information request for information about why guns were added to the list, according to the Associated Press.

"It's a public health issue, not a Second Amendment issue. The fact is that guns, the nature of guns, require that they be sold with a lot of close interaction. They can't be sold from vending machines, can't be sold with curbside pickup," Brady's chief counsel, Jonathan Lowy, said. The National Rifle Association, meanwhile, praised the decision, and thanked President Donald Trump through a Tweet for "once again keeping his promise to protect the Second Amendment rights of all law-abiding Americans."

Guns and ammunition sales are among items people have panic bought amid the coronavirus pandemic, with background checks up 300% compared to March of last year, the Associated Press reported.

Some retailers put limits on sales because of supply shortages earlier this month, according to USA Today.

"People are scared," said Drew Plotkin of Los Angeles told USA Today earlier this month. "There's a lot of panic in the world and people want to be protected for the worst-case scenario."

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