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LA gun stores must close amid coronavirus restrictions, sheriff says

The Maxwell Base Exchange firearms counter, on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. (Senior Airman Tammie Ramsouer/U.S. Air Force)

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Tuesday said gun shops are non-essential businesses and if they don’t close their doors, they will be cited and face the loss of their business licenses.

“Gun shops, strip clubs, night clubs are non-essential businesses. We are trying to get them to close their doors,” he said. “If they don’t close their doors, they will be cited,” which could mean the loss of a business license.

“We aren’t going to haul people off to jail,” he added.

The department is informing any gun businesses to shut down immediately. To ensure the message is delivered, deputies will talk to owners at any businesses still in operation.

This is not a unique decision, the sheriff said, noting that some Northern California counties deemed gun stores non-essential last week and called for their closures.

Villanueva, a gun owner, noted that he supports the Second Amendment but said given the spread of the coronavirus in Los Angeles County, which has more than 500 confirmed cases, only essential businesses should be open.

The move comes after county officials strengthened rules ordering all nonessential businesses to cease in-person operations and close to the public. There are exceptions, including food and medical services, transportation, social services and a host of other facilities.

The new order requires non-essential businesses to close their physical premises — specifically, non-essential businesses that are not retail stores. People can still work from home.

Gun sales are surging in many U.S. states, especially in those hit hardest by the coronavirus — California, New York and Washington. But there’s also been an uptick in less-affected areas, with some first-time gun buyers fearing an unraveling of the social order and some gun owners worried that the government might use its emergency powers to restrict gun purchases.

Federal background checks jumped 34% in February as gun sales skyrocketed. Many people have ordered weapons and are awaiting delivery.


© 2020 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.