New Law Bans The Open Carry Of Handguns
The bill, AB 144, by state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena), makes carrying an exposed and unloaded gun in public or in vehicles a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine of $1,000.
The bill does not affect people given permits to carry a concealed weapon by law enforcement authorities or hunting and shooting events, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The law was brought up to prevent gun accidents.
"It's not if somebody is going be shot, it's when somebody is going to be shot," Portantino told ABC News. "We have the opportunity to avoid that, and that's why this is so critical."
Portantino praised Brown’s decision to sign the bill.
"I want to thank Governor Brown for recognizing the importance of this public safety measure that will help reduce the threat to the public and to law enforcement," Portantino said in a statement issued Monday morning by his office to Pasadena Star-News. "'Open carry' wastes law enforcement time and resources when they could be out catching criminals or solving crimes. 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."
Many groups, such as the California Police Chiefs Association and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department supported the new law.
"By prohibiting the open carry of guns, we can now take our families to the park or out to eat without the worry of getting shot by some untrained, unscreened, self-appointed vigilante," Dallas Stout, president of the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said to ABC News.
Despite support from many law enforcement groups, gun advocates and Republican lawmakers have criticized the law.
“People just need to get used to the fact that a lot of law abiding citizens carry guns with no intention of hurting anyone,” Dave Workman, a senior editor of Gun Week said.
Workman said that the practice of carrying guns was once widely accepted, but eventually stopped being common practice even though there were still no laws against it.
“A custom that was once widely accepted fell out of vogue, but was never made illegal,” Workman said. “What prompted the ban in California was the appearance of members of the Black Panthers carrying guns in the late 60s; it's a race-based gun control initiative that started when Ronald Reagan was governor.”
Contra Costa Open Carry, a group supporting gun rights released a statement saying:
Contra Costa Open Carry is deeply disappointed with this action by our state. In the 160+ years that California has been a state, open carry has always been legal. There has never been a open carry advocate convicted of a violent offense.
This law being billed as a public safety issue when NO public safety was ever an issue. If the liberals are scared of seeing a law abiding citizen carrying an unloaded handgun in a belt holster, they had better get used to seeing these same law abiding citizens carrying their rifles and shotguns.
As we previously reported, if a person breaks this new law, which many say violates their second amendment rights, they could face one year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Another group that advocates of the right to carry a gun, the Responsible Citizens of California, also complained about the new law and said in a statement:
The right to Open Carry has been legal in the State of California since its inception, and there has never been a single case of an Open Carry advocate ever committing a violent crime in the Golden State's entire 160-year history. Since no problem has ever existed that needs to be addressed or fixed, there was no reason for AB 144 in the first place.
The right to carry a firearm for personal protection is a basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right that is guaranteed by the United States Constitution, confirmed by the US Supreme Court's twin landmark rulings in both Heller and McDonald, and Unloaded Open Carry was cited as an important right in California by two federal judges in recent court decisions. This decision on the part of Governor means that, as of January 1, 2012, the fundamental right to carry a handgun will be denied to the vast majority of law-abiding California residents. It is essential that law enforcement officers understand that Unloaded Open Carry will remain legal until January 1, 2012. Open Carry advocates should be treated with respect and in a manner that does not violate any of their basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil rights.
The Responsible Citizens of California released an online petition against the bill, which as of noon Monday had over 3,500 signatures.
Workman has not yet heard of any protest or legal action being taken against the law, but says that it still possible.
“In my experience, gun rights activists don’t protest in public in large crowds,” Workman said. “They realized it’s more effective to get involved politically and legally using courts and legislation.”
California joins Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas as the only states to ban the open carry of handguns.
Reach associate news editor Hannah Madans here.
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