BELLEVUE, WA – A state police plan to halt firearms sales in Pennsylvania from Sept. 2 through Sept. 6, ostensibly to update that agency’s background check system, is a civil rights outrage, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.

“The Pennsylvania State Police have just provided a strategy to any state agency, and the FBI, for arbitrarily suspending the constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. “No government agency should have that authority, and we are hopeful that state lawmakers will successfully derail this plan until the state police find some other way to update their system without interrupting firearms sales.”

The plan has gun dealers and Pennsylvania gun rights activists justifiably angry. Firearms retailers will literally be put out of business for four days, right at the start of early dove and goose seasons, at a time when many have planned sales in preparation for the general fall hunting season openers.

“There might be a ‘colorable argument,’ to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, that this shutdown violates Article I, Section 21 of Pennsylvania’s Constitution,” Gottlieb observed. “That Article clearly states that ‘The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned’. I’d say there are enough questions about this plan to justify shelving it, at least temporarily. That’s preferable to denying the gun rights of an entire state population temporarily.

“Surely there must be a means to allow firearm sales to remain uninterrupted during this computer system update,” he continued. “This is America, the ‘can do’ nation. We put men on the moon, we manage to repair highways without completely stopping traffic. We don’t put civil rights on hold just because our computers need an upgrade.

“Imagine the public fury if the right of free speech, the press or religion were suspended for four days,” Gottlieb concluded. “Firearms rights are equal to any other constitutionally-protected right, and they must never be subject to software upgrades or any other unreasonable delay. As the late Dr. Martin Luther King once noted, ‘A right delayed is a right denied’.”