LA County Sheriff Villanueva deems gun stores nonessential businesses, orders closures locallyTuesday, March 24, 2020
Following gun sales at some Southern California stores skyrocketing in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said local gun stores will be ordered to close.
Over the past several weeks, people stocked up on weapons and ammunition nationwide as coronavirus concerns heighten.
However, Villanueva said gun stores are not essential and pointed to safety concerns due to the combination of new gun owners and more people at home under the statewide "Safer at Home" order.
It is unclear when gun stores will be ordered to temporarily close their doors.
The owner of Gun Effects and Cloud Nine Fishing in Industry said his sales nearly doubled recently.
"Our staff is not accustomed to this kind of rush," said Lin, who thinks fears concerning the coronavirus are overblown. "I think people need to gather themselves a little bit and take a step back."
Many customers at Lin's store are Asian, and he said some of them are buying guns out of fear of being racially targeted because of the origin of coronavirus.
"Just people discriminating," said Lin. "We forget, we're all people. We're in America, we're not in China."
Meanwhile, police departments have been forced to pare down their operations, with some agencies only responding to emergency calls.
Additionally, Villanueva said he's adding 1,300 deputies to patrol -- double the current amount.
In order to mitigate the risk of the spread of infection throughout the jail system, Villanueva also said the department will be releasing people with less than 30 days left on their sentences. Villanueva said last week that since Feb. 28, inmate levels dropped from 17,076 in custody to 16,459.