San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said during a press conference on Tuesday gun stores within his department's jurisdiction will be allowed to remain open, a stark contrast to what Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva had originally planned for his county.
Villanueva announced on Tuesday gun stores in the county would have to close, but some of the independent cities, such as Burbank, allowed them to remain open as long as the stores and customers were practicing social distancing. Villanueva reversed his order after Los Angeles County counsel said gun stores can be considered an essential business during the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
For San Diego County, Gore said the firearm stores can remain open and will defer to the governor on if gun stores can be considered an essential business.
"The Sheriff's Department is encouraging firearm retailers to, obviously, socially distance and, like some have already done, to closing to only online or appointment-only customers. In the meantime, we will be checking back in the governor's office and hopefully get this resolved in the very near future," he said.
"Every police department can enforce these public orders, whether they be from the governor or from the county health officer," he continued.
Gore said licensed gun stores provide a "valuable service" because they ensure the public "complies with the very stringent gun purchasing laws." He added if they go out of business, police will see a surge in black market gun purchases during a time of "heightened concern."
"[Being] closed down hurts small businesses, hurts families, it hurts everybody, right? I think we are an essential business. I understand a bar is not an essential business. I think we are," gun store owner James Janya told Townhall. "Why do you think people are buying guns right now? Because people are scared, it's not because people just want to walk around with a gun. You see the way people are acting over toilet paper, over food? Can you imagine?"