Multiple gun rights organizations and retailers filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Friday for closing down gun stores in the county after deeming them as non-essential businesses during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.
The gun rights groups in the suit include the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), the California Gun Rights Foundation (CGF), and the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC). They are accusing the state of violating Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights:
"In California, individuals are required to purchase and transfer firearms and ammunition through state and federally licensed dealers or face serious criminal penalties. Subjective political opinions are irrelevant to this truth: State and federal firearms licensees are essential businesses that provide access to constitutionally protected rights. Full stop. Californians cannot exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms without such businesses. Shuttering access to arms necessarily shutters the Constitutional right to those arms. By forcing California’s duly licensed, essential businesses to close or eliminate key services for the general public, California authorities are foreclosing the only lawful means to buy, sell, and transfer firearms and ammunition available to typical, law-abiding Californians. Such a de facto prohibition on the right to keep and bear arms is categorically unconstitutional under the Second Amendment."
“Municipalities who target lawful gun stores for closure aren’t promoting safety—by weaponizing their politics to disarm you and your loved ones, these shameless partisans are recklessly promoting a gun-control agenda that suffocates your self-defense rights when you need them most," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Jason Ouimet. "NRA members recognize these unlawful power-grabs for what they are, and the National Rifle Association is proud to stand and fight alongside fellow Second Amendment groups who recognize it, as well.”
"Twenty-eight years ago, the LAPD had to withdraw their officers to protect their safety. We hope that the stay-home orders will mean that our public servants will not become infected in this pandemic, but the Constitution guarantees that everyone has a right to acquire arms and defend themselves should law enforcement not be able to respond before it’s too late," said CGF Chairman Gene Hoffman. "No petty autocrat can be allowed to suspend the Bill of Rights."
Villanueva initially issued the closure order on Tuesday, but was forced to withdraw it after L.A. County's counsel said gun stores can be considered an essential business during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Newsom said he will defer to each of the counties' sheriffs to determine if gun stores can remain open.
"Sheriff Villanueva’s reckless decision to close all Los Angeles County gun stores threatens the safety of the more than 10 million law-abiding Californians in his county. Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the nation, with a population that is greater than that of 43 states. His decision not only prohibits law-abiding citizens from purchasing a firearm and ammunition from a licensed dealer, but because of the state’s so-called 'universal' background check law, it also prohibits them from purchasing or borrowing a firearm from close friends, neighbors and most family members," NRA Western Regional Director Dan Reid previously told Townhall.