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San Diego Sheriff Seeking Gun Shop Guidance From Governor

San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore at the Sheriff's Department headquar...

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore at the Sheriff's Department headquarters in Kearny Mesa on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020.

While some San Diego county officials say gun stores are non-essential and should be closed under Governor Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, Sheriff Bill Gore said Tuesday he wants more direction from the governor’s office.

Gun stores in San Diego county have seen record sales during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, county supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county counsel had determined that gun stores are not considered essential under the governor's order and should close. That statement drew criticism from store owners and gun rights advocates.

RELATED: Gun Stores Remain Open Despite ‘Non-Essential’ Classification

Gun stores are not included in a list of 16 critical infrastructure sectors laid out by the federal government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

In a written statement, Gore acknowledged that gun stores are not on that list, but also said, "The sheriff's department recognizes the importance of licensed firearm retailers given the heightened concern for public security ... . We do not want to drive lawful sales of firearms to an underground or off the books black market during these difficult times."

The statement went on to say, "We are awaiting further guidance from the Governor on how his order affects retail firearm establishments."

RELATED: San Diego Gun Stores See Huge Uptick In Sales Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Gore also noted that some gun stores have closed, and others are seeing customers by appointment only. He emphasized that gun stores, like other retailers, must observe social distancing, saying, “We cannot have groups of persons gathering in, outside or near any business. It is counter-intuitive to the Governor's executive order and the county public health order. Firearm retailers are no exception.”

Gore went on to say that voluntary compliance is essential and that the sheriff's department does not have the resources to police all businesses.

"Where deputies can gain compliance and cooperation we will," Gore said. "Where that is not the case, deputies will employ additional enforcement options as necessary in order to gain compliance and protect public health and safety."

The sheriff’s statement was welcomed by Michael Schwarz, executive director of the San Diego County Gun Owners PAC. He said, "San Diego County Gun Owners is proud of the work we did with the county and the sheriff to make sure gun shops can continue to serve the important, lifesaving needs of the community.”

San Diego County is not the only jurisdiction dealing with the question of whether gun stores are essential. On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said they were not essential and should close. He also said his department was bringing on additional deputies to ensure compliance.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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