The LA County sheriff’s office has walked back their previous order mandating that all local gun stores close during the coronavirus outbreak, an order originally issued Tuesday after local officials deemed them “non-essential businesses” and the county’s sheriff expressed concern over first-time gun owners buying dangerous firearms during a time of panic.
After heavy pushback from gun rights supporters and conservatives nationally, LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is now saying gun stores can stay open, supposedly so that security workers can get the equipment they need during the economic shutdown.
“Those that are involved in the security business that still need to do their business... we want to make sure they're properly equipped,” Villanueva said, per the International Business Times.
Villanueva had previously ordered all gun stores to close their doors during the coronavirus pandemic, threatening any store that didn’t comply with a citation and a potentially stripping of their business license. While the order pertained to “non-essential businesses” including strip joints and night clubs, Villanueva also expressed concern that “too many first time buyers are panicking and bringing guns into homes where people are locked down, which he believes is recipe for disaster with potential accidental shootings,” per a tweet from FOX LA’s Bill Melugin.
The order conflicted with Gov. Gavin Newsom's directives, which did not mandate that gun stores close in the midst of the pandemic. Los Angeles County counsel's office issued a statement just hours after Villanueva's order saying it has "opined that gun stores qualify as essential businesses," reversing the sheriff's decision.
Even still, Villanueva has stated that allowing gun stores to remain open doesn't mean it's OK "for everyone to be panic gun-buying or rushing to stores, which is now what we're seeing." Although, how he plans to keep a free people from making legal purchases from a store that is open for business is anyone's guess.
Alongside toilet paper, ground beef and Clorox wipes, nationwide gun sales have skyrocketed over the past few weeks, jumping 34 percent in February.