The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said on Wednesday that it will “suspend” efforts to close gun shops even after designating them as “nonessential businesses” that need to be shut down amid California’s statewide lockdown, the Los Angeles Times reported. Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced on Twitter that the “efforts to close nonessential businesses have been suspended,” adding, “CA Gov. Gavin Newsom to determine what qualifies as a non-essential business.” Villanueva also linked to a Fox 11 News clip in which reporter Bill Melugin quotes him as saying: “the county’s top lawyer put out a legal opinion that she believes gun stores are essential businesses and should remain open.”
On Tuesday, the sheriff said, “We are trying to get them to close their doors,” referencing gun shops. “If they don’t close their doors, they will be cited,” he added. Meanwhile, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry association, has been urging federal and state officials to keep gun stores open despite orders to close nonessential businesses. Gun shops have experienced a huge increase in sales amid the coronavirus pandemic, fueled by fear and uncertainty as the U.S. economy is on the brink of recession.