News & Politics

After Complaints, Trump's DHS Says Gun Stores Are 'Essential' Businesses.' Looking at You, LA.

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The Trump Administration has revised and clarified its advisory about which businesses are considered “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” during the coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic. And the change looks to be connected to the LA County sheriff’s absurd flip-flopping over whether gun stores should remain open.

On Friday, the Gun Owners of America, along with the Gun Owners of California, shot a letter to the Department of Homeland Security asking it to clarify whether gun stores and other firearms-related industry are “essential” businesses in the advisory by the DHS. Many states, including California, use the federal government’s advice on what is critical infrastructure workforce.

The letter stated that that people need to protect themselves:

“It is precisely in times like these that citizens need to be self-reliant. Firearms are but one of many tools to help citizens ensure their own safety.”

The clarification followed the confusion by the Los Angeles County sheriff over the issue of shutting down gun stores.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva closed, then re-opened, then closed gun stores again in a span of just a few days. Villanueva said he closed the stores after seeing photos of long lines of people waiting in line to get into the gun stores. Obviously, the run on gun shops was by people hoping to buy more ammo and firearms to protect themselves in case of civil unrest during the nation-wide response to the pandemic. It was also to arm-up in case some sheriff decided on a whim to shut down gun stores in future – a shrewd prediction, it turns out.

Villanueva says he closed stores due to “panic” buying by rookie gun owners, whom he didn’t trust to properly use their firearms. However, he allowed law enforcement and private security companies to buy guns and ammo to make sure that the Hollywood Liberatti had their armed guards.

Then, Villanueva was countermanded by the LA County Council, which said there was nothing in the governor’s emergency declaration about shutting down gun stores. Villanueva relented and re-opened them.

Finally, a reporter asked California Governor Newsom last Thursday to clarify his stance on gun stores. He answered that he’d leave the issue up to each of the county’s sheriffs. Newsom never changed his actual emergency declaration and the county council hadn’t changed the legal opinion. Villanueva went rogue, however, and ordered the stores closed down again, this time expanding the classes of people he would allow to buy guns and ammo. He gave his OK for law enforcement, private security, and existing gun owners to buy guns and ammo. He completely cut out new gun owners.

Cue the lawyers for the legal lay-up.

On Saturday, the DHS had clarified its advisory opinion on which businesses should be considered part of the country’s “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce”:

“Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges.”

By Saturday the advisory had been changed to include the firearms industry – including gun stores.  The Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners of California heaped on the Hosannas for the Trump administration:

GOA Senior Vice President Erich Pratt said, “It is very encouraging to see CISA include the firearms industry as essential. In these uncertain times, the ability to protect yourself — and to acquire firearms, magazines and ammunition — should not be ignored. GOA/GOC thanks the Trump Administration for listening to our letter and ensuring that Americans can protect themselves in these difficult times.”

We’re sure that the sheriff is still confused about his ability to enforce the law and make law. It’s unclear whether he’ll open the gun stores again.

But do you know what would have been even better and more useful?  For LA to elect a sheriff who stops letting prisoners out of jails and actually knows the law. That would be really helpful.