Los Angeles County suspends gun store closures amid ‘stay at home’ restrictions

Plans to shut down gun stores in Los Angeles County have been put on hold by authorities for the time being.

The county is suspending its controversial plans to crack down on firearms sales during the coronavirus outbreak, The Los Angeles Times reported. Sheriff Alex Villanueva had planned to enforce restrictions classifying gun stores as “non-essential” businesses under Democrat California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “stay at home” order, but he will now defer to Newsom to clarify what counts as an “essential” business, he said in a tweet.

Newsom’s order causes confusion

Gov. Newsom has ordered all businesses not considered “essential” to close as California seeks to crack down on social and commercial activity that could spread the virus. Villanueva had said Tuesday that he had planned to enforce the closure of gun stores, arguing that they are “non-essential”  businesses under Newsom’s edict.

“Gun shops, strip clubs, night clubs are nonessential businesses. We are trying to get them to close their doors,” Villanueva said, according to Fox News.

The plans, however, were put on hold after county counsel Mary Wickham intervened with an opinion arguing that gun stores serve an “essential” purpose. Villanueva now looks to Newsom to clear up the matter once and for all.

Self-defense is “non-essential”?

In explaining the move to police gun stores, Villanueva has said that he does not like the idea of first-time “panic buyers” purchasing firearms, Los Angeles Fox affiliate KTTV reported. He suggested that fear strong enough to motivate a surge in gun sales nationwide is irrational, saying, “You can’t shoot a virus.”

Still, gun sales have skyrocketed across the country as uncertainty looms over the coronavirus and the significant disruptions it has brought to society. In places like Los Angeles, authorities have relaxed law enforcement protocols to stem the spread, according to NBC News. Los Angeles County had roughly 800 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday afternoon, Fox 10 in Phoenix reported.

Ironically, while seeking to curtail the ability of Los Angeles County residents to defend themselves, Villanueva has ordered LAPD officers to make fewer arrests — and jails in the county have started releasing some inmates to slow the virus spread. County jails have released some 1,700 prisoners considered to be non-violent, Villanueva said Tuesday.

What’s next?

Under the circumstances, many Americans have been left feeling vulnerable and uncertain about their government’s ability to protect them. It’s quite ironic — disturbing even — that some authorities consider self-defense a “non-essential” activity in times like these.

California has implemented some of the earliest and most sweeping restrictions on freedom of movement in the country as the coronavirus prompts lockdowns in states nationwide. The quarantine orders all over America have led to some concern among civil libertarians that authorities may take advantage of the crisis to curtail citizens’ rights.

For its part, San Diego is not closing its gun shops because they are believed to provide a “valuable public service,” San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said, according to Fox News.

It remains to be seen what Gov. Newsom will decide, but given that he is the governor of the most liberal state in the country, a decision respecting the Second Amendment seems unlikely.

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