At the end of a week of flip-flopping by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on the issue of whether gun stores are “essential” businesses or not during a public health emergency (the anti-2A authoritarian eventually decided they were not), four gun rights organizations have filed a federal lawsuit against Villanueva, California Gov Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County.
The suit, filed by Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), National Rifle Association of America (NRA), California Gun Rights Foundation (CGF), and Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and individual and retail plaintiffs, alleges that Newsom and Villanueva’s orders are “unconstitutionally vague, arbitrary and capricious, and violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights of Plaintiffs and similarly situated Californians.”
In the Complaint Plaintiffs acknowledge the unique circumstances facing state and local officials but maintain that such circumstances aren’t an excuse for officials to turn their political opinions into public policy:
Subjective political opinions are irrelevant to this truth: State and federal firearms licensees are essential businesses that provide access to constitutionally protected rights. Full stop. Californians cannot exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms without such businesses.
The circumstances posed by the Novel Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) outbreak are noteworthy, but do not excuse unlawful government infringements upon freedom. In fact, the importance of maintaining the ongoing activities of essential businesses for the safety, health, and welfare of Californians makes Plaintiffs’ point: the need for enhanced safety during uncertain times is precisely when Plaintiffs and their members must be able to exercise their fundamental rights to keep and bear arms.
In a press release CGF Chairman Gene Hoffman referred to the riots that took place in Los Angeles after a jury acquitted four police officers accused of beating Rodney King as an example of why individuals have to rely on themselves as their own first responders in a time of crisis:
“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….No petty autocrat can be allowed to suspend the Bill of Rights.”
Plaintiffs are asking for a “preliminary and permanent injunction” prohibiting enforcement of the order, and for a declaratory judgment that Defendants’ orders, “policies, practices, and customs…individually and/or collectively violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.”
The groups encourage individual arms applicants/purchasers and retailers affected by ‘stay-home’ or shutdown orders to report potential civil rights violations to Firearms Policy Coalition’s COVID-19 Issue Hotline at www.FPChotline.org.