The fight over the right of California residents to acquire firearms and ammunition during the coronavirus pandemic is playing out in courtrooms and the statehouse in Sacramento. On Tuesday, a Los Angeles judge upholding a decision by the mayor declaring that firearms retailers must close, while a state assemblyman from L.A. is asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to order a statewide shuttering of gun stores.
Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel rejected a request for a temporary injunction blocking City Attorney Mike Feuer’s order declaring gun stores “non-essential” filed by the California Rifle & Pistol Association and several Los Angeles gun shops. The Long Beach Post was the first to report on the judge’s decision, as well as reaction from City Attorney Mike Feuer, a longtime gun control advocate.
“I’m very pleased that once again our office has successfully defended the mayor’s Safer at Home Order against a push to open gun stores during this public health emergency,” Feuer said in a statement. “The mayor’s order treats gun stores and other non-essential businesses the same, requiring them all to be closed to protect public health and speed the day Angelenos can get back to work.”
Feuer is engaging in a bit of duplicity with his remarks. The gun stores and the CRPA weren’t arguing that they deserved special treatment compared to other non-essential businesses. Their argument is that gun stores aren’t non-essential at all, but are instead a critical component of the workforce and must remain open in order for Los Angelenos to be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights during a state of emergency. The long lines outside of LA gun stores in recent weeks is evidence that plenty of residents agree with the gun stores suing to stay open, but for now their doors will remain locked, even while demand remains high.
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago is asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue a statewide order declaring gun stores non-essential, rather than allowing counties and cities to decide if gun shops can remain open. In the letter, Santiago claims that “panic buying” of firearms must stop, and the only way to do that is to shut down every gun store in the state.
Adding more firearms to our current state of affairs perpetuates the cycle of public panic and impulsive action. An increased population of firearms in our state not only poses a greater risk to children and families who are largely confined to their homes, but also to our communities facing racially motivated or otherwise targeted hate. The people of California are grappling with a new reality brought on by COVID19 and we have a responsibility to respond to our state’s need for confidence and certainty. By suspending firearm and ammunition sales and arming Californians with strong safeguards on public health and safety reinforced by state peace officers, we can mitigate undue risks to our public.
I’m not sure there’s such a thing as “panic buying” when any new gun owner has to endure the state’s 10-day waiting period, but Santiago is simply taking the position that more guns in the hands of Californians is a bad thing, and the coronavirus is just a timely excuse for Santiago to push to make it impossible for Californians to exercise their right to keep and bear arms, unless they had the foresight to purchase a gun before the pandemic began.
It’s shameful, but not surprising, to see these moves in California to prevent residents from exercising their rights in a time of crisis, especially when law enforcement is expressing growing concern about an increase in crime in the days and weeks ahead. Our constitutional rights don’t disappear during a state of emergency. In fact, there’s a strong case to be made that our right of self-defense is never more important than it is in times like these. Instead of standing up for the Second Amendment, sadly too many in position of authority in California are intent on shutting it down.