Raising the ire of gun enthusiasts statewide, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law late Sunday the measure that will make it illegal to openly carry unloaded firearms in public.
Introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), and backed by California Police Chiefs and rank-and-file officers, AB 144 outlaws the practice of visibily displaying unloaded handguns.
“‘Open carry’ wastes law enforcement time and resources when they could be out catching criminals or solving crimes,'' Portantino wrote in a prepared statement. "Instead, when officers are called to investigate the display of a weapon on an ‘open carry’ proponent, it takes their attention away from where it’s needed and puts folks at unnecessary risk.”
On the other side of the controversial legislation are gun owners and gun enthusiasts who believe Brown's passage of the bill is a violation of their second ammendment rights.
"For almost 90 percent of residents in the state of California--San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, the greater Bay Area--the possibility of getting a concealed weapon permit is impossible,'' said Sam Paredes, the chief lobbyist for the Gun Owners of California (GOC).
Paredes, listed as a member of the Board of Directors of Gun Owners of America on the GOA website, as well as someone who's worked with Gun Owners of California (GOC) for more than 30 years, told Patch Monday that "the whole universe of pro-gun orgnaizations'' will get together and file a legal challenge to the open carry law.
They Want to Overturn the Law
"We want this overturned and to make California a shall-issue state, forcing chiefs of police and sheriffs to give to law abiding citizens with clean records the right to publicly carry handguns. The right to bear arms is not intended for only in your home,'' Paredes said.
Adding that this is "the beginning of the fight,'' Paredes said he was not sure how quickly he and others would file the challenge.
makes it a crime to openly carry an unloaded handgun in any public place or street. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Law enforcement personnel are exempt, as are hunters and others carrying unloaded weapons under specified licensed circumstances.
California is one of many states that allow so-called “open carry” of firearms. Carrying loaded firearms in public is already against the law in California.
The dispute came to a head last year when gun enthusiasts began showing up in coffee shops, restaurants and public beaches with unloaded guns strapped to their hips, according to Portantino's office.
This was Portantino's first attempt at open-carry legislation. Last year another Assembly member-–Lori Saldaña--authored similar legislation, but, at the last minute, the bill got held up on the floor of the assembly and never made it to the governor's desk. According to Portantino's spokeswoman, Wendy Gordon, police chiefs and officers asked the legislator in December to carry the bill this year.
The ''open carry'' ban will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.