Claiming he only answers to God and President Donald Trump, a gun store owner in Middleborough is refusing to comply with Gov. Charlie Baker’s order to close amid the coronavirus outbreak.
John Costa, owner of The Gunrunner, said the store will remain open and that state will have to “drag” him out of his location on Wareham Street if they want to close it.
“That guy is an idiot. He’s a liar. He’s a RINO [Republican In Name Only],” said Costa, who spoke with MassLive for a brief interview before hanging up. “And I’ll tell you something right now, the attorney general has her hand so far up his butt that she can actually move his mouth. So no, I will not comply to this insane socialist governor. And that’s why I won’t close.”
The town of Middleborough issued a cease-and-desist order to the Gunrunner on April 2, citing Baker’s order to close non-essential businesses. Three weeks later Costa said he continues to serve customers with curbside sales.
State and local authorities may call on the assistance of State or municipal police to enforce the order. Violations may result in civil fine of up to $300 per violation, or criminal charges, officials said.
Officials in Middleborough weren’t immediately available for comment.
Costa said the only regulations he adheres to are in the Constitution, specifically the Second Amendment.
Within The Gunrunner’s logo, below the name, two bullet holes serve as quotation marks surrounding the phrase, “Dedicated To Your Second Amendment Rights.” The last four digits of the business telephone spell GUNS on touchtone dials.
“This thing with the governor, all the rest of the country, most gun shops are open,” Costa said. “This governor, his plan is to shut down the gun shops, not because the spread of the pandemic, it’s all about taking away our rights. It’s all about preventing the sales of guns.”
Costa has continued sales by approaching cars outside the shop to ask which guns they’d like to purchase. He then retrieves the requested firearm from inside to show the potential customer.
“They see the gun. If they like it, fine. I sell them the gun,” Costa said. “Everything is done at the vehicle. No one comes in here. That’s called curbside service.”
The Massachusetts Bureau of Firearms wasn’t immediately available to provide comment on the legality of curbside gun sales.
Costa compared it to services to those the state allows restaurants to perform.
“This is really funny, all the restaurants are doing curbside service yet nobody is telling them they can’t do that,” Costa said. “They’re all open. And what do they deal with? They deal with food. How the hell do you know if any of them people in that restaurant is not infected with the virus, meanwhile handling the food and giving it to us to take home. I won’t buy a damned thing from these restaurants.”
Under Baker’s latest executive order gun manufacturers, importers and distributors can continue to operate, but shooting ranges and retailers must remain closed to the public until May 4. The order allows for restaurants to offer takeout and delivery services.
The Department of Labor Standards said 123 businesses at 355 locations in the state have been closed due to cease-and-desist orders under Baker’s order. The agency also said 273 were reported to DLS with 54 still under investigation.
When pressed on the language earlier this month, Baker made it clear gun shops should be closed.
“The only folks on the firearms side that have been essential in Massachusetts since we introduced the essential order are manufacturers,” Baker said.
Earlier in April, a coalition of gun store owners and customers filed a suit against the Baker administration, calling on a judge to reverse the state’s restrictions on gun sales during the state of emergency.
Four store operators and six would-be gun owners, along with a handful of nonprofits, filed the suit in U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, requesting an order that blocks the state from banning gun sales, arguing it violates the Second Amendment.
Costa was not part of the suit and won’t follow the order.
“I will stick to my guns. I will stick to the Constitution which gives me every damn right to stay open,” Costa said. “My boss, I have two leaders, God and Trump. No one else.”
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