Los Angeles County gun stores are being closed based upon the determination of Sheriff Alex Villanueva that they are not essential and therefore must be shuttered to comply with emergency regulations already in effect to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The sheriff is able to make the order because he is also Los Angeles County’s director of emergency operations.
Villanueva added during an interview with KTTV that he is putting 1,300 deputies on patrol and has set free 1,700 of what he called non-violent inmates from county jails.
The sheriff said gun stores should not be open in the climate created by the coronavirus and the response to it.
“We will be closing them, yes, because they are not an essential function,” Villanueva said.
He lumped gun stores with other businesses he said needed to be shut.
“Gun shops, strip clubs, night clubs are nonessential businesses. We are trying to get them to close their doors,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “If they don’t close their doors, they will be cited.”
Being cited could lead to the loss of a license to operate a business.
“We have received complaints from particular businesses that have not been adhering to the social distancing. Chief among them gun shops, nightclubs, bars and strip clubs, so we have fanned out and are making sure these business are complying,” he added.
The sheriff sought to make clear that he was not intending an assault on the Second Amendment.
“It’s not an issue of banning the sales of guns, which the Second Amendment is about … the problem is there was a little bit of lack of inclusive planning process in the development of the local order from health officers,” he told the Times.
“That had created somewhat of a conflict with orders coming from the governor’s office that were more broad-stroked. We have identified a loophole that needs to be addressed.”
“There are hundreds of businesses which, through no fault of their own, do not fall under the governor’s definition of critical infrastructure,” Villanueva said Tuesday, CNN reported.
“I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment, I’m a gun owner myself, but now you have the mixture of people that are not formerly gun owners and you have a lot more people at home and anytime you introduce a firearm in a home, from what I understand from CDC studies, it increases fourfold the chance that someone is gonna get shot,” he continued, according to KTTV.
The measure to close gun stores is opposed by the California Rifle and Pistol Association, an affiliate of the National Rife Association.
“CRPA believes that firearm retailers serve an essential purpose especially with the unprecedented demand for the ability to defend yourself and your family,” the group said on its website.
Chuck Michel, an attorney for the group, said it is trying to keep stores open because they are needed.
“They don’t just sell guns; they sell camping gear, survival gear, things that people may need,” he told KCRA-TV. “Gun stores have been deemed to be essential in many, many jurisdictions, but unfortunately some of these jurisdictions are allowing politics to creep in.”
Sam Paredes, the executive director of Gun Owners of California, said Villanueva’s decision could prompt legal action.
“There are far more important things that the sheriff can be doing than sending uniformed officers to gun stores telling them they’re going to be shut down by force,” he said. “We’ve got lots of stories from people who said, ‘I’d never thought I’d own a firearm, and now I want them more than anything in the world.'”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.