Pandemic priorities, rights, responsibilities

Indiana County Second Amendment Sanctuary group logo. Source: Facebook.

Coronavirus diary

By David Loomis

INDIANA – Amid a global pandemic minimized by the president and people in his base, the Republican members of the Indiana County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday expressed their priorities:

No social distancing can be seen between them and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. So voted GOP commissioners Mike Keith and Robin Gorman on a resolution of support to appease feverish gun-rights enthusiasts.

Democratic commissioner Sherene Hess abstained. The resolution was redundant, she said.

“When I assumed office for the second time as county commissioner, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” she said. “Therefore, I abstained on this vote.”

Facebook commentary was more pointed.

“Do we get 9 more resolutions for the rest of the bill of rights?” wrote one commenter.


THE RIGHTS OF U.S. gun enthusiasts do not appear to be at risk of infringement. Firearms purchases have soared since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

The volume of sales would be the envy of toilet-paper producers. Gun shops nationwide say they are struggling to re-stock.

In March, more than 2 million guns were sold nationwide. In that month, the FBI conducted 3.7 million background checks, the most since the background-check program began in 1998. That figure tops the previous high set in 2015 when President Obama discussed restrictions on assault rifles after a mass shooting in San Bernardino.

Are gun shops essential businesses during the pandemic? Yes, they are. Governors around the country last month amended their initial closure orders to exempt firearms retailers from the shutdowns. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf followed suit.

In Indiana County, the Republican commissioners’ Wednesday show of support evidently was insufficient for local gun enthusiasts. On Thursday, the county’s Second Amendment Sanctuary group posted an angry reaction on Facebook.

“Another case of Government doing things while you all are concentrating on Covid-19!“ the response read. “Please understand that this is NOT what you want. A resolution has as much legal backing as a feather in the wind!”

Resolution supported by Republican Indiana County Commissioners, April 8, 2020. Click to enlarge.

The group’s agenda now includes, you guessed it, more rights.

“I will not be backing down on this!” the posting exclaimed. “I will continue to gather support and signatures until they pass an ORDINANCE! Robin Gorman and Mike Keith BOTH signed the petition for the Ordinance. I am committed to making them back up those signatures!”

Neither Mr. Keith nor Ms. Gorman responded to emailed requests for comment sent Thursday.


IF THEY ARE FEELING unappreciated for their gun-rights vote, Mr. Keith and Ms. Gorman might shift their shows of concern to the doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, custodians, grocery store clerks, and other workers on the front lines of the county’s real and looming crisis. The concern probably would be more appreciated.


David Loomis, Ph.D., emeritus professor of journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, is editor of The HawkEye.

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