Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced Monday that he would no longer order or recommend that gun stores be closed as part of the county’s “safer at home” order.
The reversal was the second time Villanueva announced businesses dealing in firearms and ammunition may reopen, after he twice ordered them to close since last Tuesday.
He said the move was prompted by memorandum issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Saturday that designated workers supporting the firearms and ammunition industry to be “essential infrastructure” workers.
“Based on further input from the federal government, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not order or recommend closure of businesses that sell or repair firearms or sell ammunition,” Villanueva said in a written statement.
The sheriff said that while the Department of Homeland Security guideline was an advisory only, “…nonetheless, the federal memorandum is persuasive given the its national scope.”
The department will monitor for unsanitary conditions and improper social distancing practices at all businesses, then report unlawful conditions to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for review, Villanueva said.
“Regardless of whether a business sells groceries, gasoline, firearms, or any other product or service, we encourage them to abide by all health and safety measure in place,” he added.
The National Rifle Association and three other Second Amendment advocacy groups sued the Sheriff’s Department over Villanueva’s most recent order for gun stores to close on Thursday.
The businesses had just reopened after Villanueva ordered them closed on Tuesday, but he faced objections from the county’s top attorney.
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