Previous directive to close gun shops suspended, other non-essential businesses must close

Richard Nagler, the owner of Adam's Armory, shows his concealed Springfield 1911 Pistol at his gun store in Stevenson Ranch on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Speaking as one of the leaders at the Emergency Operations Center, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Tuesday afternoon that 1,300 deputies would be transitioned from non-essential posts to posts in the field. 

However, officials with the Sheriff’s Information Bureau confirmed Tuesday night that the directive to close gun stores within Los Angeles County was being walked back.

“As far as closing the gun stores, that order has been suspended,” Deputy Marvin Crowder of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said Tuesday night.

Crowder confirmed reports that said county legal counsel had submitted an opinion that gun stores should be considered “essential” under the statewide orders to shutter “non-essential” businesses.

The previous directive, which Villanueva had discussed publicly on both Monday and Tuesday, had intended to close businesses such as gun shops, night clubs, bars and strip clubs — institutions that have always or just recently started to draw crowds and/or lines of people.

“It’s not an issue of banning the sales of guns, which the Second Amendment is about,” said Villanueva. “The problem is that there was a little lack of an inclusive planning process and the development of the local order from the health officer, and that creates somewhat of a conflict with the orders coming from the governor’s office that were more broad strokes.”

Villanueva said he understands the need for them.

“Those that are involved in the security business … we want to make sure they’re properly equipped and all that,” said Villanueva. “However, that is not a license for everyone to have a panic gun buying and rushing to stores, which is now what we’re seeing. And, again, that violates the whole issue of social distancing and is creating its own attractive nuisance.”

The directive was modified Tuesday night, suspending any action that would close gun stores, but the directive would continue to affect the other industries previously mentioned by Villanueva.

During the Tuesday afternoon press conference, Villanueva said the directive, which is enforceable by law, has not resulted in any citations being handed out, yet.

“We’re not going to be chasing individuals down the street,” said Villanueva. “We expect people to cooperate, and we can be very persuasive in that regard.”

And if citations are to be handed out, Villanueva said the citation effort would be geared toward targeting enterprises such as restaurants, bars and entertainment venues that generate a crowd of people that violates the directive.

Villanueva said the 1,300 deputies would be used throughout all 88 cities within L.A. County working to keep the peace at supermarkets, big box retailers and ensuring contact is maintained with the disabled, elderly, homebound and homeless populations.

Over the past few weeks, the Sheriff’s Department has released 1,700 inmates, or about 10% of the Los Angeles County jail population. Villanueva said no “big amount” of other inmates, beyond the previous 10%, will likely be released in the immediate future.

“We’ve already done all the low-hanging fruit, we’ve already picked it,” said Villanueva. “We’re going to make sure no violent, serious inmate who was in there for a serious crime that represents a threat to the community, will not be released under any circumstances.”

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