Stay-at-home orders and firearms in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic

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2 Scopus citations


Firearms are a leading cause of death and injury in the United States, and this trend has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic. We sought to identify whether states designated gun retailers as essential businesses in their stay-at-home orders and characterize other references that could affect firearm acquisition during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this cross-sectional policy review, we assessed stay-at-home orders issued in March or April 2020. Orders were reviewed in their entirety, and any reference to firearms, firearm retailers, shooting ranges, or other relevant elements was documented. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia issued stay-at-home orders. Most considered federal firearm licensees to be among essential businesses or made provisions for them to remain open during widespread business closures. Others referenced the US Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) advisory memorandum on essential critical infrastructure workers which named workers supporting firearm manufacturing and retail among essential workers. Therefore, stay-at-home orders issued in most states included provisions for firearms retailers to remain open, at least in some capacity. Only four states and the District of Columbia did not include federal firearms licensees among essential businesses or include provisions for them to be open. Meanwhile, an all-time high in firearm background checks indicates firearm sales have markedly increased. Given the associations between firearm access and injury risk, the effects of continued firearm access facilitated by these orders should be the focus of future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106281
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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