Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva saw an opportunity yesterday and took it. Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order shutting down most businesses in the state didn’t mention gun stores. Villanueva said he didn’t like the panic gun buying and the idea of a lot of first-time buyers with firearms.
Los Angeles County residents rushed to gun stores as the coronavirus spread across the U.S. last week, forming long lines in a fit of panic-buying, a top law enforcement official told NBC News.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the gun buying bonanza came just before a stay-at-home order was put in place. Gun shops, like other nonessential businesses, are now closed across the county.
“You can’t shoot a virus,” Villanueva told NBC News. “But if we ever get to the point of a foreign invasion or zombie apocalypse, I’ll make sure they are open.”
– Mansee Khurana in Los Angeles County gun shops drew a barrage of buyers before lockdown
So Villanueva ordered gun stores in the county closed.
The pushback was immediate and fierce, with some local officials deciding that citizens’ safety and their ability to protect themselves as more important than the Sheriff’s alleged concerns.
Co-owner of Guns Direct in Burbank tells me they closed after Sheriff’s order, then Burbank PD came by at 2pm and told them they can open up because they are essential. Long lines. He says it’s 95% first time buyers who don’t know about CA’s 10 day wait and want gun ASAP. @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/0BEbt4ucPy
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) March 25, 2020
Finally, after a legal opinion from the county’s attorney, Villanueva has backed off and will allow Governor Newsom to decide what is essential.
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