To: All State Senators
From: Adam Garber, CeaseFire Pennsylvania Executive Director
RE: Vote No on House Bill 2440
September 23, 2020
House Bill 2440 would prevent the closure of any gun-related business–whether we are in “normal” times or a national emergency like the current pandemic–for any reason, including failure to get appropriate insurance, meet legal business requirements, or ignore existing gun safety laws such as background check requirements. CeaseFirePA, the Commonwealth’s leading state-based gun violence prevention advocacy organization, urges you to vote no on HB 2440 if a floor vote is called on this bill.
The bill has been couched as a response to current requirements to keep individuals safe during COVID-19, including preventing the spread of the virus among people getting critical training on how to safely use a firearm. However, the amended version of the legislation would categorize all firearm-related businesses–including shooting ranges, sportsman’s clubs, and firearms/ammunition manufacturers–as “life-sustaining businesses.” If passed, this designation would not only immediately allow these operations to reopen during the pandemic without any public health protections in place, but, through HB 2440’s incredibly broad language, would very likely create an unprecedented public safety and legal crisis.
HB 2240’s language states that these so-called “life-sustaining” businesses “shall never be shuttered or limited,” regardless of whether a pandemic exists. This unprecedented privilege has wide-ranging consequences that must have been beyond what was intended. If the language on this bill is taken at face value, these businesses could not be closed if evicted after court proceedings for failure to pay rent; municipal and state government could not act if they fail to meet requirements for customer and worker safety; they could not be closed for failing a fire safety inspection or refusing to pay taxes; and law enforcement could not take action if they fail–or refuse–to follow background check requirements for purchases.
This special treatment for an entire industry would allow the firearms industry to act with impunity in the face of rent, taxes, worker safety, fire safety, and public safety. No industry should have this kind of power.
The Pennsylvania Senate should be exploring common sense proposals to keep communities safe while allowing responsible gun ownership, not opening new ways for gun-related businesses to flout existing financial, legal and safety requirements. We urge you to oppose HB2440, because of the impact of this broad legislation.
CeaseFirePA Executive Director