Several gun owner groups have filed a federal lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Gov. Gavin Newsmon and state and county health officials in an effort to block the closure of gun shops during the coronavirus outbreak.
In an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Sheriff Alex Villaneuva closed gun stores in L.A. County on Thursday to everyone except police and licensed security company employees.
According to the lawsuit, the closure is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
“California’s attack on fundamental rights in times of emergency must be stopped in its tracks,” said Alan Gottlieb, executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. The groups accused Newsom and the sheriff of using the ongoing crisis to promote a gun control agenda.
“California’s state and local governments cannot simply suspend the Constitution,” Firearms Policy Coalition President Brandon Combs said.
The suit argues that California is closing the only legal way to purchase firearms and therefore “shutters the Constitutional right to bear arms.” “Such a de facto prohibition on the right to keep and bear arms is categorically unconstitutional under the 2nd Amendment.”
Villaneuva said that he supports the 2nd amendment, but the spread of coronavirus throughout Los Angeles County calls for only essential businesses to be open.
“It’s not an issue of banning the sales of guns, which the 2nd Amendment is about,” he said.
Villaneuva added that long lines at gun shops went against the efforts to maintain social distancing, and that new guns on hand when people were staying inside for long periods of time could lead to trouble.
Gun sales are going up all over the country, especially in those hit hardest by the pandemic, including California. Some people are purchasing firearms for the first time because they’re afraid of an unraveling of the social order or worry that the government may use its powers to restrict gun purchases.
“Twenty-eight years ago, the LAPD had to withdraw their officers to protect their safety,” said California Gun Rights Foundation Chairman Gene Hoffman. “We hope that the stay-home orders will mean that our public servants will not become infected in this pandemic, but the Constitution guarantees that everyone has a right to acquire arms and defend themselves should law enforcement not be able to respond before it’s too late.”