The Trump administration has deemed gun stores open "essential," arguing that firearms are an essential service amidst the growing COVID-19 pandemic. The move has drawn strong criticism from gun control advocates, who argue that boosting gun ownership during such a time could lead to disastrous consequences.

“Adding more guns to more homes during a time of more anxiety could lead to more deaths. And that’s the last thing we need when our hospitals are already bursting at the seams,” John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety advocacy group, said in a statement.

Advocates have also warned that increased gun ownership during this time could lead to an increase in domestic violence, and further accused the Trump administration of stoking fears in order to drive gun sales.

The administration’s stance on gun stores was put forward Saturday in a release from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which elaborated on which sorts of businesses should be considered essential during the coronavirus pandemic. Alongside gun stores, other essential businesses include grocery stores, hospitals, transportation services and more.

Despite the fact that the guidance carries no legal weight and that state governments are allowed to make their own rulings on the matter, several states and counties have recently reversed orders and allowed gun stores to reopen.

Specifically citing the guidance from the DHS, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey allowed gun stores to reopen. Elsewhere, Alex Villanueva, Sheriff of Los Angeles County, also cited the ruling and allowed stores in the major county to reopen.

Gun store Salesman Ryan Martinez clears the chamber of an AR-15 at the "Ready Gunner" gun store In Provo, Utah, U.S. in Provo, Utah, U.S., June 21, 2016. Photo: George Frey/REUTERS