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Counties disagree if Bass Pro can stay open amid pandemic

By the Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Bass Pro Shops on opposite sides of the Kansas-Missouri border are being treated differently during the coronavirus crisis, with one county allowing a location to stay open because the outdoor gear chain sells some packaged foods, but another county determining that its location needs to close.

Officials in Johnson County, Kansas, say the company’s store in Olathe is allowed to remain open because it falls under the exemptions for grocery stores in the county’s order.

In neighboring Jackson County, Missouri, however, the Bass Pro location seemed to be selling primarily guns and ammunition, according to The Kansas City Star.

Kayla Parker, a spokeswoman for the county’s health department, said the agency would tell the Missouri store’s management that the business was violating the emergency order meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. After that, law enforcement may step in and issue a fine or bring a misdemeanor charge.

Bass Pro Shops has kept both locations open because it believes the public has the right to access guns and ammunition during an emergency. In a statement to the newspaper, the company pointed to Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s executive order that “permits retailers like us that sell food products to operate during this crisis” and to a Missouri law that states neither the state nor cities can prohibit or restrict possession, sale or display of firearms or ammo during an emergency.

Company officials said they are limiting ammunition purchases and telling customers and employees to maintain safe practices, including staying at least 6 feet from one another.

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