Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has reportedly “declared gun stores as nonessential businesses” that must close during the current COVID-19 panic, while at the same time releasing 1,700 “non-violent inmates from county jails,” according to KTTV News.
The sheriff made the revelation during an interview with the station, the local Fox affiliate.
Villanueva is reportedly adding 1,300 deputies for patrol duty and promised to keep violent felony suspects behind bars “no matter what.”
He told the reporter he is a gun owner, and “supporter of the Second Amendment.”
“But now you have the mixture of people that are not formerly gun owners and you have a lot more people at home and anytime you introduce a firearm in a home,” Villanueva said, “from what I understand from CDC studies, it increases fourfold the chance that someone is gonna get shot.”
Perhaps not coincidentally, Sheriff Villanueva is quoted in an email document from a group called Guns Down. The message tries to discourage gun buying during the Coronavirus panic with this note: “Americans are responding to the coronavirus pandemic by stocking-up on deadly guns and ammunition, a trend that could increase suicides, and unintentional shootings as well as increase the risk of domestic violence becoming more lethal during this uncertain time. The weapons people are panic-buying today could also end up being used in households, schools, churches, bars, and on our streets in the future.”
The sheriff’s likeness appears with this message: “Buying guns is a bad idea. Particularly, you have a lot of people now that are at home — normally, they’re not. Cabin fever sets in, you’ve got a crowded environment, people at home — weapons are not a good mix.”
The Guns Down document is called a “Digital Toolkit for #StopTheCoronavirusGunSurge.” It’s a five-page document with suggested Twitter messages to discourage gun buying.
Gun stores have been virtually under siege since the pandemic panic erupted, driving the stock market into deep red territory, which has had its own bad result on the economy. Thousands of people have lost jobs or been furloughed as companies have been ordered to shut down for indefinite periods in order to control the spread of the Coronavirus.
Governors in several states have adopted emergency orders, including Illinois, which specifically identifies firearm and ammunition distributors and retailers as “essential” businesses, while New Jersey has ordered gun stores closed. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was subsequently sued in U.S. District Court by the Second Amendment Foundation.
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