LA County Sheriff Backs Off Gun Store Closures (Again)

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Monday evening that he’s reversing course once again and will no longer try to force gun stores in his jurisdiction to close, after Department of Homeland Security guidance released over the weekend declared that the firearms industry is considered an essential part of the workforce.

According to NBC4 in Los Angeles, Villanueva who was facing a lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Center, and the California Gun Rights Foundation, backed down from his ban after reviewing the new DHS guidance.

Villanueva called the non-binding memo “persuasive” and announced that his department won’t order or recommend closing businesses that sell or repair firearms or sell ammunition in the nation’s most populous county.

Let’s hope this is the last time Villanueva will change his mind on the issue of gun stores. For more than a week, the sheriff has issued a series of confusing and contradicting orders; one day stating that gun stores could remain open, and then ordering them closed the following day.

Villanueva ordered a shutdown of gun shops last week, saying panic-buying that produced long lines at the shops was worrisome from a public safety standpoint.

Days later, he issued a second order closing them to the public, despite a county legal counsel’s finding that the stores are essential businesses that should remain open. However, Villanueva’s second order said the stores may still supply security guard companies, and anyone who already has purchased a gun and possesses a valid safety certificate can pick up their firearms.

On Friday, four groups, including the National Rifle Association of America, filed a federal lawsuit, contending that the sheriff’s actions violate the constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva will no longer order or recommend gun stores in LA County to close as non-essential businesses under the “Safer At Home” directive, he announced Monday evening.

Villanueva has claimed that he’s a Second Amendment supporter throughout this entire process, but the fact remains that he would prefer that his constituents not be able to exercise their right to keep and bear arms right now. In fact, given the incredibly low number of concealed carry licenses issued by Villanueva over the past few years, it’s clear that he doesn’t believe the average American has the right to bear arms at all.

In that sense, it wasn’t shocking to see Villanueva attempt to shut down gun stores. It fit with the type of anti-gun policies we’d previously seen from the sheriff, but it was still such an egregious abuse of power that Second Amendment organizations saw fit to file suit.

With Villanueva now backing off his decision, the city of San Jose, Santa Clara County, and Alameda County are the biggest jurisdictions in California that continue to block gun stores from opening. Hopefully the DHS guidance will be enough to end any further efforts to keep people from exercising their Second Amendment rights in the current emergency. Those governments have so far avoided a lawsuit over their decisions, but now that the Los Angeles County sheriff has once again changed his mind, we could see new litigation that challenges the restrictions in the Bay area in the days ahead.