For the second time in two weeks, a judge Tuesday upheld the city of Los Angeles' decision to deem gun stores such as one in Reseda non-essential businesses and force them to close during the coronavirus pandemic.
Several businesses and a gun-rights group filed a petition April 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court and requested a temporary restraining order allowing the shops to reopen. Judge Mary Strobel rejected the first TRO application on April 14, but the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint 10 days later.
One of the petitioners, Rancho Cucamonga-based Turner's Operations Inc., again sought a TRO on grounds it operates an essential business that should have been open under the city's order all along. As examples, Turner's cited its sale of first aid kits and handbooks for wilderness survival, grocery items in the form of various dry goods and fishing equipment as well as state licenses required to fish.
Turner's also noted it sells essential products to law enforcement personnel, including tactical gear, firearms, firearm parts and cleaning kits and ammunition. The 28-store Turner's Outdoorsman chain has one outlet within the Los Angeles city limits, located in Reseda.
"By not recognizing that Turner's is exempt from the (Mayor Eric Garcetti's) order and thus entitled to operate, the city is abusing its discretion,' according to Turner's court papers.
However, Strobel denied Turner's latest TRO request. In their court papers, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office noted that the judge previously found that the temporary closing of one of Turner's 28 stores is not enough to show that the chain has been irreparably harmed.
"The harm to the public remains, as before, an increase in COVID-19 infections brought about by unnecessary interpersonal contact and the subsequent strain on the limited public health resources available to cope with that,'' according to the City Attorney's Office's court papers.
The other petitioners are the California Rifle & Pistol Association, FFL Guard LLC and Traders Loan and Jewelry Inc. Their lawsuit alleges that the city of Los Angeles does not have the legal authority to shutter gun stores amid the coronavirus crisis.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said in March said he would leave it up to sheriff's departments to decide whether to close gun shops, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva subsequently said they would be closed during the pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. on April 6 denied a request for a similar request asking the Los Angeles gun shops be permitted to open.