Several Second Amendment advocacy groups have filed a federal lawsuit against Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva for enacting policies designed to restrict access to firearms in a time of crisis.
The organizations, which includes groups like the National Rifle Association and the Firearms Policy Coalition, filed the lawsuit the day after Villanueva declared he would shut down the county’s gun stores as a public safety measure. Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) and two public health officials are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Gene Hoffman, the chairman of the California Gun Rights Foundation, invoked the 1992 LA Riots to describe why the Second Amendment remains an especially critical Constitutional guarantee — one that cannot be suspended by a “petty autocrat.”
“Twenty-eight years ago, the LAPD had to withdraw their officers to protect their safety. We hope that the stay-home orders will mean that our public servants will not become infected in this pandemic, but the Constitution guarantees that everyone has a right to acquire arms and defend themselves should law enforcement not be able to respond before it’s too late,” said Hoffman in a press release.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Villanueva has argued that gun stores are not essential to the county during a pandemic, and was targeting them specifically, in part, because he had received complaints about a lack of social-distancing at gun stores.
“We have received complaints from particular businesses that have not been adhering to the social distancing. Chief among them gunshops, nightclubs, bars, and strip clubs, so we have fanned out and are making sure these business are complying,” said Villanueva, reports The Los Angeles Times.
“I’m a supporter of the 2nd amendment, I’m a gun owner myself, but now you have the mixture of people that are not formerly gun owners,” said the sheriff, reports Fox News. “You have a lot more people at home and anytime you introduce a firearm in a home, from what I understand from CDC studies, it increases fourfold the chance that someone is gonna get shot.”
According to The Los Angeles Times, the sheriff is currently involved in a dispute with the board of supervisors, which is trying to remove him as the head of emergency crisis operations for the county.
“This is pretty much a silent coup, what they’re trying to orchestrate,” Villanueva told the news agency, remarking that the board of supervisors was retaliating against him for trying to close gun shops. “We should be worried about masks, about test kits.”
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl has said that the move is about consolidating the crisis management operation, not about the sheriff.
“I think the sheriff erroneously believes that centering the response to this crisis to the Office of Emergency Management is somehow a dis to him,” said Kuehl, reports the news agency.
According to The Los Angeles Daily News, Supervisor Kathryn Barger has echoed these sentiments, saying that the move began in November after an audit revealed that public agencies weren’t cooperating during the 2018 Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California.
“The sheriff was provided with an opportunity to talk about this in November,” said Barger, reports the news agency. “As far as I’m concerned, I have moved on.”