UPDATE 3/27/20: Gun stores are NOW closed again under the order of Sheriff Villanueva unless one is a police officer or a security guard, in which case, FFLs can sell ammo and firearms to that exempted personnel.
UPDATE 3/25/20: Sheriff Villanueva has suspended efforts to close gun stores pending a decision from Gov. Newsom:
LA County Sheriff’s Dept. Enforcement efforts to close non-essential businesses have been suspended. CA Gov. Gavin Newsom to determine what qualifies as a non-essential business. Please click to view story https://t.co/HrRD8VKcUG
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) March 25, 2020
The sheriff for Los Angeles County is making bold moves this week to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including shutting down all gun stores and releasing inmates from county jails.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva indicated that the decision to close FFLs was about public safety and protecting people from themselves.
“We will be closing them, they are not an essential function,” Villanueva told FOX 11. “I’m a supporter of the 2nd 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.”
Along with shuttering gun shops, Villanueva has let 10 percent of the inmates in county jails back out on the street, roughly 1,700 criminals, out of fear they may contract and spread the contagion to other inmates.
Though, the sheriff contends that they are nonviolent lawbreakers and with a ramped-up police force, Villanueva ordered an additional 1,300 officers to patrol local communities, they shouldn’t be a problem.
“We’re gonna keep violent felony suspects who are a threat to the community in the jail no matter what,” Villanueva said. “Anybody who has an idea that somehow we’re not going to be hard on crooks out there on the streets, they’re tragically mistaken, there’s twice as many deputies on the street now so the odds of you getting caught are a lot higher.”
Many Californians have expressed concern about the possibility of martial law being enacted. Photos of military vehicles in the area have put citizens on high alert. But Villanueva said the National Guard has not been activated as of yet and wouldn’t be unless things got out of hand.
“If we start losing major portions of our sworn personnel, that impacts our ability to man jails or our patrol obligations, and were running out of people to do that, if were in that position typically our counterparts in LAPD they’ll be in the same boat, then we can use the National Guard to start assigning them to security operations,” Villanueva explained.
LA County isn’t the only municipality in California that has decided to close gun shops. The city of San Jose also ordered FFLs closed under its shelter-in-place directive. Evidently, the overlords in California believe the public’s access and ability to purchase guns and ammo is a privilege and not a right.
It should be noted that the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) is currently suing the state of New Jersey over its decision to close gun stores and stop running background checks on firearm transfers. It’s quite possible that LA County and San Jose will also find themselves the target of a SAF lawsuit in the near future. Stay tuned!