The long lines of customers that have been seen outside the Bullseye Bishop gun store in San Jose, California won’t be around today, after authorities in San Jose, California, including anti-gun mayor Sam Liccardo, declared gun stores in the city to be “non-essential businesses” on Wednesday, forcing the stores to close under the city’s shelter-in-place order.
“We are having panic buying right now for food,” Liccardo said Wednesday. “The one thing we cannot have is panic buying of guns.”
Law enforcement officials confirmed Wednesday that they shut down the Bullseye Bishop with little fanfare, in one of the first enforcement actions taken in San Jose on the initial day of the shelter-in-place order.
“We went out there and closed it,” San Jose police Chief Eddie Garcia said, adding that the owner was cooperative.
Two people who picked up the phone at Bullseye Bishop declined to answer questions from a reporter, repeating that the store is “closed to the public for the next three weeks.”
While the store owner may have been cooperative, many potential customers are understandably upset and concerned by the closure.
Outside the shop, San Jose painting contractor Joshua Wolfe, 37, who was buying ammo, said he believed the gun store had every right to remain open.
“Essential? It’s our right to arm ourselves,” Wolfe said. “Toilet paper is essential, right? People are going nuts for that, right?”
Everyone is “on edge,” he said, “because people don’t know the truth of this whole situation. If they’re short on supplies, they’ll come after people who are prepared.”
J.V. Sumabat, 31, of San Jose said he was worried about the same thing.
“I’ve seen people fighting over toilet paper. I’m worried what they will do out of desperation,” he said. “When people start looting stores and they don’t have access to food, they could come into the homes of those they feel are vulnerable. I’d rather be prepared.”
I agree that gun stores are essential businesses and should remain open during this current crisis. Mayor Liccard can talk about “panic buying” all he wants, but under California law anybody purchasing a firearm is limited to one handgun per month, subject to a ten-day waiting period. The state is already rationing the purchase of firearms in non-emergency situations, in other words. For San Jose to shutter gun stores now is an absolute infringement of our right to keep and bear arms, but it’s going to take a gun store or perhaps a gun owner to fight these orders in court if we’re going to see any change in the next three weeks.
The decision by San Joe authorities to close gun stores is going to add to the fear and concern in the community, not alleviate it. People are understandably freaked out right now, and while we haven’t seen any reports of a rise in crime, including looting or break-ins, it is not unreasonable to worry about that being a possibility in the not-too-distant future.
So far, Bullseye Bishop is the only gun store that I’m aware of that’s been forced to close because of the shelter-in-place order in the Bay area, but we may very well see more of this in the days ahead, and not just in California. My hope is that gun owners and gun store owners will legally challenge any and all future attempts to declare gun stores “non-essential” businesses during this state of emergency to help insure that the right of the people to keep and bear arms is not infringed when it is needed most.