Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced that gun stores would be declared as “nonessential” businesses and ordered all gun stores in the L.A. county to close down on Tuesday.
“There are hundreds of businesses which, through no fault of their own, do not fall under the Governor’s definition of critical infrastructure,” Villanueva said in a press conference.
“As a result, I have instructed my deputies to enforce closures of businesses which have disregarded the Governor’s order (gun stores, strip clubs, and other non-designated businesses).”
Gun sales in the U.S. have skyrocketed amid the coronavirus crisis. Over the past few weeks, gun stores across the country have seen very long lines and a quick depletion of inventory as many residents turn to their Second Amendment rights for self-protection. However, Villanueva believes that keeping these gun stores open for business amid the pandemic is unnecessary.
“We will be closing them, they are not an essential function,” Villanueva said. “I’m a supporter of the 2nd amendment, I’m a gun owner myself, but now you have the mixture of people that are not formerly gun owners and you have a lot more people at home and anytime you introduce a firearm in a home, from what I understand from CDC studies, it increases fourfold the chance that someone is gonna get shot.”
The sheriff also plans to beef up patrols by adding 1,300 deputies to his ranks – doubling the current number of officers deployed on the streets – and claims that gun shops who ignore the order and remain open will be summoned to court. Further, Villanueva announced the release of 1,700 non-violent inmates from county jails to mitigate the risk of the spread of infection throughout the jail system. He claimed that they will be keeping the violent suspects imprisoned no matter what and that those who believe that they won’t be going hard on felons on the streets are sorely mistaken. (Related: WHO warns coronavirus pandemic now accelerating – what are the U.S . states doing about it?)
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti warned his residents that the worst of the global pandemic is still to come, and that they should be prepared for more losses. He claims that L.A. could be only days away from seeing coronavirus case numbers similar to New York City, where the death tolls have spiked dramatically over the past few days.
“It’s coming,” Garcetti said. “The peak is not here yet. The peak will be bad. People will lose their lives.”
Garcetti also said that his office has been receiving reports of nonessential businesses remaining in operation even after the announcement of a lockdown last week. He deems this behavior “irresponsible and selfish.” These businesses should expect a warning call from local prosecutors before the city decides to take a more aggressive stance. If they still do not comply with public health and emergency orders, these businesses will be receiving visits from a team of local enforcers to shut them down.
“You know who you,” Garcetti said, during a daily briefing. “You need to stop it. This is your chance to step up and shut it down. If you don’t, we will shut it down.”
“The easiest way to avoid a visit from the city is to follow the rules,” he added.
As of press time, L.A. county health officials confirmed an additional 128 cases of coronavirus infection, bringing the county’s total to 622 cases and 11 deaths. Overall, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States has approached the 55,000 mark.