The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office on April 1 notified Lokey Firearms in Morgan Hill that the gun and ammunition retail store must close for business during the remainder of the ongoing countywide shelter-at-home order.

The store and other gun shops “are not deemed essential business by our public health authority,” Deputy DA David Angel said. 

The county health officer’s stay-at-home directive, now in place until at least May 3, is a legal order that is enforceable by legal authorities.

The March 31 extension of the stay-home order further restricted day-to-day activities by closing playgrounds, golf courses and other public recreation areas in order to encourage better “social distancing” practices to slow the spread of the COVID-19 illness. DA Jeff Rosen at a March 31 press conference pleaded directly to “non-essential” businesses to “close your doors.”

“I think there were a lot of businesses that weren’t sure what their legal obligations were” when the initial stay-home order went into effect March 17, Angel said. “I think it’s a positive development in our county (that) once people know what they have to do, they’ve been very compliant.”

Lokey Firearms, located at 15650 Vineyard Blvd., had remained open after Santa Clara County and six other Bay Area jurisdictions proclaimed a shelter-at-home order on March 17. The order prohibits “non-essential” business from staying open, and includes a lengthy definition of “essential” business. Firearms and ammunition retail sales are not included in the public health order’s list of essential business.

While they remained open after March 17, the store had promoted social distancing guidelines by allowing only two customers into the shop at a time. On March 27, the store posted on Facebook that it would begin a new policy of asking customers to sign in with their name and cell phone number when they arrive, and a store employee would call them when it was their turn to enter.

The shop posted a photo of the sign-in sheet, which says, “Following the directive of the City of Morgan Hill Police Department we are requesting that you please sign in below and wait in your vehicle to be (called) in. Thank you for your patience with us as we are doing our best to support our community during these uncertain times.”  

An April 1 post on Lokey Firearms’ Facebook page states, “County of Santa Clara office of the District Attorney has Shut us Down,” and asks customers to call the DA’s office.

Angel added that the store did not attempt to defy the DA’s guidance when asked to close. He said the many small businesses that are closed during the stay-home orders are making “a huge sacrifice” for the sake of improving the public health situation.

“The overriding message from (County Health Officer) Dr. (Sara) Cody is, we’re all supposed to shelter in place to limit the spread of this virus, with narrow exceptions—and she defines what those are,” Angel said.

Lokey Firearms did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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