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NRA suit asks California to declare gun shops 'essential businesses' amid shutdown

This 2010 file photo shows an employee showing various handguns displayed at G. A. T. Guns in Dundee, Ill. The National Rifle Association, in concert with other gun rights groups and a retailer, sued Friday asking California to declare gun shops essential businesses under Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Brian Kersey/UPI
This 2010 file photo shows an employee showing various handguns displayed at G. A. T. Guns in Dundee, Ill. The National Rifle Association, in concert with other gun rights groups and a retailer, sued Friday asking California to declare gun shops essential businesses under Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

March 28 (UPI) -- The National Rifle Association and other gun owner groups are suing California Gov. Gavin Newsom to have gun stores declared essential businesses amid the state's stay-at-home order.

The lawsuit, filed in Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, named Newsom along with Los Angeles County sheriff Alex Villanueva, state public health officer Sonia Angell and Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of public health.

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Newsom has left the question of whether firearms are essential businesses to individual counties, but on Thursday Villanueva issued a statement saying gun stores were not essential businesses and must close to the public.

"There are hundreds of businesses which, through no fault of their own, do not fall under the governor's definition of critical infrastructure," Villanueva said this week. "As a result, I have instructed my deputies to enforce closures of businesses which have disregarded the governor's order (gun stores, strip clubs, and other non-designated businesses)."

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Under Newsom's order, grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and other businesses can remain open, but those considered non-essential were ordered to close.

"The circumstances posed by the Novel Coronavirus ("COVID-19") outbreak are noteworthy, but do not excuse unlawful government infringements upon freedom," said the lawsuit, which was jointly brought by Gun World, the Second Amendment Foundation, the California Gun Rights Association and the Firearms Policy Coalition as well as two individuals. "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."

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