The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is closing gun stores Thursday in unincorporated areas of the county and the 42 cities where it provides law enforcement, after suspending efforts earlier this week following the county counsel's office declaring gun stores essential businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"We're going to shut down gun sales and ammunition sales outside of law enforcement and private security organizations," said Sheriff Alex Villanueva. The department will defer to individual chiefs of police to decide to close gun stores in the 45 cities in Los Angeles County that have their own law enforcement agencies, according to Villanueva.
"The city of L.A., for example, they have banned all gun shops, they closed them throughout the duration of this pandemic, and the city of Pasadena is going to follow our standard," the sheriff said.
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Villanueva expressed concern about first-time gun owners in isolation with others during the shelter-in-place order.
"What we're trying to discourage is panic gun-buying," Villanueva said. "You have now a bunch of people who are normally not all crammed into a house confined together, and at some point in time when tempers start flaring, people that are unfamiliar with a new handgun — a new shiny toy — we're going to expect to see an increase in domestic violence, with tragic results."
On Monday, Villanueva said gun shops would be closed under the coronavirus orders requiring non-essential businesses to close.
But on Tuesday, the sheriff's department temporarily suspended enforcement efforts to close gun stores during the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision was made after the county counsel's office declared gun stores essential businesses under Gov. Gavin Newsom's statewide order, according to Deputy Trina Schrader of the Sheriff's Information Bureau.
City News Service reached out to the sheriff's department for clarification about why efforts resumed closing the gun stores, but did not immediately hear back.
The governor said this week that he would defer to county sheriffs to decide how to handle gun stores.