When Los Angeles County Health Health ordered residents to stay at home under the “Safer at Home” order, one provision was to close all nonessential businesses in the County, which came just before the State order.
At first, gun stores in Burbank felt they were ‘essential’ businesses and stayed open with the L. A. County Health Department’s blessing but Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva ordering them closed and said they were ‘not essential’ businesses.
With two conflicting orders at the time, the City of Burbank recognized the Health Department’s guidelines since Burbank comes under their jurisdiction. Only Pasadena and Long Beach have their own independent Health Departments and do not have to go by the County’s guidelines.
After much discussion on Wednesday, the Sheriff allowed guns stores to reopen but stated he would find out a legal definition.
On Thursday, at his press conference, Sheriff Villanueva once again closed guns stores, but only in unincorporated cities of the County in a release. “Sheriff Villanueva also addressed the temporary shutdown of guns and ammunition sales outside of Law Enforcement and Private Security organizations. The order will be effective for all unincorporated L.A County areas, including 42 contract cities where LASD provides law enforcement services.” was stated in the Sheriff Department’s Press Release Thursday afternoon.
Of course by this definition, Burbank would not be included since they are an incorporated City with their own government and police and fire departments. They followed the Health Department’s orders and left gun shops open on Tuesday.
Burbank Police Public Information Officer Derek Green said about the gun store closures, “Burbank can make their own decision about the gun stores, per the most recent order. Those discussions are being had amongst City officials.” While some have worried about an increase in domestic battery cases during the social distancing he added, “We’ve seen no increase so far. I guess it’s possible, but we don’t anticipate any increase in our domestic violence incidents at this time.”
After the Thursday order that did not include incorporated cities such as Burbank, we asked the City what they were going to do with the situation, as well as who in the City could authorize the shutdown of gun shops as ‘nonessential’ businesses.
The City of Burbank’s Public Information Officer, Simone McFarland responded with the official statement from the City of Burbank regarding gun shops and if they will be shut down:
“Certainly, there has been confusion on certain categories of essential businesses, including gun shops. The County has said gun shops are essential businesses under the Safer at Home Order, which aligns with the Governor’s stay at home executive order, and can remain open.
This Order is effective within the County of Los Angeles Public Health Jurisdiction defined as all unincorporated areas and cities within the County of Los Angeles, with the exception of the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena. As such Burbank is subject to this Order.
The Order is based upon scientific evidence and best practices, as currently known and available, to protect members of the public from avoidable risk of serious illness and death from the spread of COVID-19, as well as to protect the healthcare system from a surge of cases into emergency rooms and hospitals.
Burbank does not have our own Health Officer and relies on the County’s Public Health Officer for guidance and decisions as to essential businesses.
Until Los Angeles County Public Health Officer directs otherwise, gun shops will remain open.”
While Burbank relies on the County order, it may be up to the City of Burbank to decide the closure of gun shops if they choose. When the City Council declares an Emergency, the Mayor (Sharon Springer) becomes Chairman of Emergencies with the Vice Chairman being the City Manager (Justin Hess) and the Assistant Director is the Assistant City Manager (Judie Wilke) becoming known as the Disaster Council. They can then appoint others as needed. All decisions they take must be then taken to the full City Council for a vote. The Chairman can call for a meeting at any time of the Disaster Council.
The Disaster Council has met and will stay with the County’s decision at this time.
Of course, guns stores, like guns themselves are the third rail of American politics. With the gun lobby being so powerful, politicians are reluctant to battle them and citizens believe their second amendment rights are being trampled.
As of Friday, the National Rifle Association has announced a lawsuit aimed at California officials about the closures.