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Why Are Oregon Gun Shops Open?

They’re considered necessary during the statewide business shutdown.

When Gov. Kate Brown shut down businesses across the state during the COVID-19 outbreak, she wanted clarity about who could be open and who had to close.

But Brown also avoided a culture war.

While other states have created a list of essential businesses that are allowed to stay open, Brown opted to list places that must close. Not on that list: gun shops.

Some blue-state governors have opted for closing gun stores: Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York deemed them not essential. In Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, the governors kept them open. (A draft order from Mayor Ted Wheeler would have closed gun shops in Portland.)

Guns, like journalism, are constitutionally protected, and gun shop closures have faced legal challenges: Pennsylvania reversed course after gun rights advocates filed a lawsuit, The New York Times reported.

It's a fight Brown chose not to have. She left it to the Oregon Health Authority to decide on future closures. "Right now, specifically shutting down the businesses you listed is not one of their recommendations," says Brown spokeswoman Liz Merah.

Related: The New Yorker visited a gun shop in Hood River last week—and found liberals stocking up.