LOS ANGELES - California Governor Gavin Newsom along with Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva were sued in federal court Friday over the forced closure of gun stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit was filed by the NRA, 2nd Amendment Foundation, California Gun Rights Foundation and the Firearms Policy Coalition.
"We weren’t willing to sit by and just watch people’s rights be violated," said Matthew Larosiere, Director of Legal Policy for Firearms Policy Coalition. "Gun rights are not about sunny, happy days, not about skeet shooting. It’s about a hedge against the worst day of your life. When people are scared of looting and when shortages are a problem, it’s a real threat."
The claim argues that the closures violate the Second Amendment of the Constitution and that state and federal firearms licensees are "essential businesses" that provide access to constitutionally protected rights.
The lawsuit also cites violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from making and enforcing any law that restricts citizens from exercising their Constitutional rights.
Last week, the governor ordered that all "non-essential businesses" close across the state, as the number of COVID-19 cases began to rise exponentially.
On Thursday, Villanueva ordered all gun shops to close and halted all sales, deeming them as "non-essential" during the pandemic.
The sheriff had tried to implement the closure earlier in the week, but he suspended the closure after county lawyers told him that the shops were considered essential.
The governor later stated that sheriffs do have the authority to make such closures under the given circumstances, which once again led to Villanueva ordering that gun shops to close to the general public.
However, he chose to allow the businesses to continue to sell weapons and ammunition to police officers, licensed security guards, as well as residents who were previously registered as gun owners.
Earlier this week, Villanueva told FOX 11 reporter Bill Melugin that he is a gun owner himself and supports the 2nd Amendment, but he believed too many first time buyers were panicking and bringing guns into homes where people are locked down, which he believes is recipe for disaster with potential accidental shootings.
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FOX 11 Investigative Reporter Bill Melugin contirbuted to this story.