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LA County Sheriff Reverses Order for Gun Stores to Close Again After Feds Say They Are Essential Businesses

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has rescinded his order for gun stores to close down in his jurisdiction a second time following recommendation from the Department of Homeland Security that such stores are an essential business during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.


Villanueva said on Monday as long as firearm retailers are following social distancing protocols, they can remain open.

"Although explicitly advisory in nature, nonetheless the federal memorandum is persuasive given its national scope," Villanueva said, clarifying that "the Los Angeles Country Sheriff's Department will not order or recommend closure of businesses that sell or repair firearms or sell ammunition."    

Villanueva was able to reissue his order for gun stores to close down to the general public, since Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said he would defer to local authorities on what constitutes an essential business. 

In his revised order, Villanueva said gun stores would be allowed to sell ammunition to security guard companies and if someone bought a firearm and are still in the 10-day waiting period, they are able to pick it up when it's ready.

"[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," James Janya, one of the owners of Guns Direct in Burbank, previously 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?"


Gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), the California Gun Rights Foundation (CGF), and the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) had filed a lawsuit against Newsom and Villanueva over the gun store closures on Friday.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) also reversed his order to close down gun stores in the state because of the memo from DHS on Monday.

"In accordance with the guidance released over the weekend from the federal Department of Homeland Security, we will allow firearm retailers to operate, by appointment only and during limited hours, to conduct business, which under law, must be done in person," Murphy said. "It wouldn't have been my definition, but that is the definition at the federal level and I didn't get a vote on that."

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