Feds say drive-through gun sales are allowed during coronavirus outbreak

ATF will allow window sales as well as those from a temporary 'table or booth' outside.

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A table of merchandise at a gun sale
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Last Updated:
April 11, 2020 - 4:06pm

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The federal government has clarified that gun dealers are permitted to process background checks, make sales and accept payments for firearms using specialized drive-through or walk-up arrangements, a win for gun retailers looking to maintain their sales in an era of coronavirus fears and state-mandated "social distancing." 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms clarified in a Friday letter to all federally licensed firearm dealers that they are legally allowed to conduct sales under such circumstances provided that "the activity otherwise complies with all applicable federal laws and regulations." 

The bureau said it had been receiving multiple queries from retailers following the Department of Homeland Security's declaration that firearm retailers constitute an "essential" business for the purpose of pandemic mitigation regulations. Governors throughout the country have in recent weeks ordered all "nonessential" businesses within their states to close in order to help halt the spread of the virus. 

The ATF said that dealers may conduct sales "through a drive-up or walk-up window or doorway where the customer is on the licensee’s property on the exterior of the brick-and- mortar structure at the address listed on the license," as well as "from a temporary table or booth located in a parking lot or other exterior location on the licensee’s property at the address listed on the license." 

The bureau explicitly forbade gun owners from selling firearms "from a nearby space that is not located on the licensee’s property," something gun dealers had inquired about. 

Gun sales have surged as the coronavirus has spread throughout the United States. The F.B.I. recorded over 3.7 million background checks last month, the highest since the federal background check program was implemented in 1998. 

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