The last we heard from Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva he was explaining to a slack-jawed public why he needed to let prisoners out of the jails by the hundreds — 1,700 so far –- to fight COVID-19. LA residents wondered why he was socially distancing criminals from jails but not socially distancing criminals from the law-abiding. To make matters worse, he also announced that there would be minimal arrests, if any, of people breaking laws that carried a more than $50,000 bail, which includes assault, stalking and a whole host of other crimes for which people are routinely removed from polite society.
That was on Monday, March 16.
But two days before, on Saturday, March 14, it was clear Angelenos had already figured things out in a COVID-19 world. People swarmed gun stores to buy protection for families and valuables in case the city devolved into another riotous dystopian Thunderdome.
This was the photo seen all over the country.
If you thought the lines at the grocery store are long… good morning from Los Angeles 🌴 pic.twitter.com/NudGqwW4I2
— CJ Johnson (@cjjohnsonjr) March 14, 2020
On Tuesday, March 24, ten days after seeing that photo, the Sheriff announced he was closing gun stores.
Most people swarming gun stores have been first-time buyers, a Pasadena gun shop owner told Fox 11. The timing of Villanueva’s edict could be a coincidence or it could have been timed to deny all those new gun owners in the above photo and the thousands of others who used their COVID-19 pause to get a gun to protect their family, from getting their guns in hand due to California’s ten-day waiting period.
See ya in 10 (business) days.
— Bryan Suits KFI AM640 (@darksecretplace) March 14, 2020
Tuesday, Villanueva told Fox 11 News that he was closing the stores because he considered them to be “non-essential” businesses. He said that there were simply too many first-timers buying guns in a panic right now. He promised to put more LA County law enforcement officers on the street to make up for it.
Gee, thanks. More cops not enforcing the law against lawbreakers. Great idea!
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
Gun owners weren’t having it.
Pro-Second Amendment groups started lawyering up and caterwauling and Villanueva backed down – for the time being anyway.
Bearing Arms reports the county attorney determined the governor never identified gun stores as non-essential, so they should legally remain open. The governor, who’s anti Second Amendment, could still add gun stores to the list. Stay tuned for that.
KMPH TV reported that Chuck Michel, a noted Second Amendment lawyer for the National Rifle Association-affiliated California Rifle and Pistol Association, said most gun stores sell other survival gear to help weather the COVID-19 crisis:
“They don’t just sell guns — they sell camping gear, survival gear, things that people may need,” he said. “Gun stores have been deemed to be essential in many jurisdictions, but unfortunately some of these jurisdictions are allowing politics to creep in.”
Politics? Who would have thought that California politicos and sheriffs, who are pro-criminal, would not be on board with people defending themselves? Stunning, really.
Monday I called my local gun store and range in Orange County, Ca., and was delighted to hear they were open and that concealed carry and other classes were still on. To get a CCW in the OC you have to be able to take apart, clean and put your gun back together, attend class, and, naturally, spend time at the range.
The only people who deem the Second Amendment and the gun stores that allow citizens to exercise it “non-essential” always seem to be the people who thought you were bright enough to vote for them, but apparently lost a few IQ points after that. That, and they have people with guns protecting them.
See the report of Villanueva backing off his order to shut down gun stores here:
Based on the legal advisement from LA County Council, I have suspended efforts to seek voluntary compliance from LA County firearm retailers. We are waiting for further information from CA Gov. Gavin Newsom to clarify what qualifies as a non-essential business. My primary concern remains the safety of all Los Angeles County residents.
Posted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday, March 24, 2020