In declaring a state of local emergency due to riots and civil unrest in the city of West Palm Beach, Florida, Mayor Keith James banned all sales of guns and ammunition Sunday. He also declared all citizens are prohibited from possessing firearms in public places.
In his Declaration of Emergency, James cited a Florida statute that allows public officials to strip law-abiding citizens of their Second Amendment rights by preventing the sale and public possession of firearms.
The mayor’s declaration claimed, “[T]here is reason to believe that there exists a clear and present danger of a riot or other general public disorder, widespread disobedience of the law, and substantial injury to persons or to property,” in the city of West Palm Beach. This description of events is similar to what Americans across the country are experiencing — prompting them to buy more guns and ammo.
May 2020 marked the third consecutive month of record-high firearm sales, bringing the total to an estimated 6 million guns sold since the coronavirus outbreak began in March. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a large portion of the sales records were driven by first-time gun owners.
“Our recent survey of firearm retailers shows us that 40 percent of these gun buyers are buying a firearm for the first time,” Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the group, said in a statement. “Of those first-time gun owners, 40 percent are women and these buyers are overwhelmingly purchasing handguns for personal protection.”
In April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order that exempted all firearm and ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, distributors, importers, and shooting ranges in the state from stay-at-home restrictions during the Wuhan virus outbreak. On Tuesday, DeSantis said demonstrations across Florida “have remained largely peaceful over the past 24 hours and no significant law enforcement or civilian injuries or deaths have been reported to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.”
In a statement, James said, “The public’s safety is my top priority, especially during this time of great unrest in cities nationwide.”
The mayor’s office did not respond to request for comment.
Read the full West Palm Beach Declaration of Emergency here.