Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced Monday that he would not order or recommend the closure of gun stores or businesses that sell or repair firearms and ammunition during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and the “Safer at Home” order enacted by county and state officials, Fox News reports.
For the second time,Villanueva said that gun stores could reopen after ordering them to close twice since last Tuesday. He had previously deemed them “nonessential,” saying that panic buying produced long lines and could be a safety hazard for the public.
The sheriff said he’s heeding a federal Department of Homeland Security Advisory Memorandum issued on Saturday that listed workers supporting the firearms and ammunition industry were “included in the list of essential critical infrastructure workers.”
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) March 31, 2020
“Although explicitly advisory in nature, nonetheless the federal memorandum is persuasive given the national scope. Included in the list of essential critical infrastructure workers are workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges,” he announced.
“Based on further input by the federal government, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not order or recommend closure of businesses that sell or repair firearms or sell ammunition.”
Villanueva said last week that gun and ammunition stores are not “essential businesses” and would close to the general public in compliance with L.A. County’s “Safer at Home Order for Control of COVID-19.”
“During the closure, they shall be permitted to sell ammunition to security guard companies,” said Villanueva. “Also, I am making an exception for those who have already lawfully purchased a firearm, possess a valid California Firearms Safety certificate and simply need to take possession of their firearm.”
The sheriff issued the order despite a county legal counsel’s finding that the stores are essential businesses and should remain open.
The National Rifle Association and three other Second Amendment advocacy groups sued the Sheriff’s Department over Villanueva’s most recent order for gun stores to close, arguing the move “shutters the Constitutional right to those arms,” according to Los Angeles’s KTLA.