Alameda County gun store Solar Tactical has closed its doors for the time being, after remaining open for several days despite a “shelter-in-place” order in the county. Owner Mike Addis reluctantly made the decision after being threatened with prosecution for keeping the doors open, but says he still believes his store and others are essential businesses that need to be operating during the state of emergency.
“A gun store is an essential business because it’s a Second-Amendment right,” explained Solar Tactical owner Mike Addis. “A lot of our customers are business owners and they’re concerned about looting or they’re concerned about their personal safety in the house,” Addis added.
Addis said business has been going through the roof and most customers are first-time buyers. He felt unfairly targeted and singled out by the sheriff.
“Definitely a mixed message. Up and down California, some shops are open, some are not open. Big 5 can sell guns right now. Walmart can sell guns right now,” Addis said.
KPIX-TV spoke to one of Addis’s customers on Friday who backed up the gun store owner’s argument.
“There’s been a home invasion two doors down from where I lived,” said Joshua Boothby, who stopped by Solar Tactical to pick up a handgun. Boothby had purchased the gun 10 days ago. And it was ready for pickup after the required cooling-off period and background check. He arrived at the store Friday afternoon to find it closed.
Boothby said guns and ammo are essential in these uncertain times. He already owns a shotgun but he thought a handgun would better protect his family if someone breaks in to his Castro Valley home.
“It’s kind of concerning that, like, you’re hearing about martial law might go into effect and then you hear about prisoners being released,” said Boothby.
It is concerning, and it’s even more concerning that someone who bought a firearm, went through the background check and the mandatory 10-day waiting period now can’t pick up the gun that he purchased. Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office isn’t doing himself or his office any favors with his argument in favor of shutting down the gun store.
“This was never an argument over the Second Amendment. This was an argument about essential versus non-essential in the fight against COVID-19,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly, spokesman for Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office says that, in a health crisis, they have to make tough decisions.
“People that are buying weapons now — all of a sudden — that were not weapons owners prior, what type of training and experience do they have in handling those weapons? That’s a concern,” Sgt. Kelly said.
It may be a concern, but it’s not a valid reason to deprive those people of their constitutional rights. Many gun owners and Second Amendment organizations are stepping up to point out videos and other online resources for new gun owners to at least get some basic knowledge of firearms handling and safety until they can get to a range or a classroom for instruction.
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Addis says he’s talking with his attorney and would like to reopen, but for now the doors to Solar Tactical remain locked while he tries to convince local officials of the obvious; the right to keep and bear arms is never more essential than during emergencies. No, you can’t shoot the coronavirus, but you can protect and defend yourself and your family from any criminals who decide to take advantage of the fact that many law enforcement agencies will be stretched thin as officers become exposed to COVID-19 virus. By declaring gun stores to be non-essential businesses, California politicians are declaring that the right to keep and bear arms isn’t essential either. The U.S. Constitution and millions of California gun owners disagree.