Federal Judge Says Massachusetts Gun Stores Can Reopen Saturday

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A federal judge ordered Massachusetts to allow gun stores to reopen on May 9, in a decision that could pave the way for a future Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of shutdowns.

United States District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock said there was “no justification” for Gov. Charlie Baker’s total shutdown of gun stores in the state during the coronavirus pandemic. He granted a preliminary injunction against the executive order and said stores could reopen so long as they operate on an appointment basis and follow strict social distancing rules.

“I have enough information to say, in this very small corner of this emergency, we don’t surrender our constitutional rights,” Judge Woodlock said during Thursday’s hearing on the case, according to the Boston Globe. “These plaintiffs … have constitutional rights that deserve respect and vindication. And it becomes necessary for a court to do that.”

Baker’s office did not return request for comment.

Thursday’s decision created a split in federal courts about the legality of gun store shutdowns, which could trigger a Supreme Court review of the policy’s constitutionality. While Judge Woodlock ruled the Massachusetts ban was unconstitutional, two federal judges ruled that California localities could shutter gun stores in April. With the cases facing appeals, higher courts may soon be forced to answer the question as well, according to Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston. – READ MORE

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