Shoppers wait in line to purchase ammunition and guns at Gun World in Burbank, California on March 17.
Sarah Reingewirtz—MediaNews Group—Pasadena Star-News/Getty Images
April 12, 2020 1:40 PM EDT

Gun retailers can still offer curbside services to sell guns and ammunition to customers amid the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced in an industry letter published Friday.

Firearms businesses have been already deemed an “essential service” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, even as thousands of “nonessential” businesses remain closed and the Trump administration is urging people to stay home to prevent the spread of coronavirus. (Other essential businesses include grocery stores, hospitals and pharmacies.) Gun control activists have criticized the decision, warning that increased gun violence could divert already strained health care resources away from responding to the pandemic.

Around the country, gun owners have flocked to stores to stock up and there’s been a significant spike in gun and ammunition sales in January and February, according to the Associated Press.

ATF’s statement on Friday notes that retailers with federal firearms licenses have requested guidance on how to go about accepting payment and delivering firearms or ammunition to customers, as well verifying customer identity and completing paperwork. The federal agency outlines that licensees can conduct these services through a “a drive-up or walk-up window or doorway” on the retailer’s property outside the building listed on the license. They can also operate from a temporary table or booth located in a parking lot or other exterior location on the premises but “any such activities must occur in a location where the licensee has the authority to permit ATF’s entry for inspection purposes.”

It clarifies that retailers cannot carry out these activities “from a nearby space that is not located on the licensee’s property at the address listed on the license, unless such activities are at a qualified in-state gun show or event.”

Write to Sanya Mansoor at sanya.mansoor@time.com.

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