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‘Open carry’ ban bill could pass later today

State Senate Democrats have been scrambling to get enough votes to pass a bill to criminalize the “open carry” of unloaded handguns in public places.

open carryAB 1934 by Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, D-San Diego, came up for a floor vote yesterday but fell short of the 21 votes it needed to pass, so it was put on call and brought back up several times through the day – falling one vote short at yesterday’s end, but winning a unanimous vote to reconsider it today.

Adnan Shahab of Fremont, the Republican nominee for the 20th Assembly District seat and an open-carry activist, was in Sacramento watching the votes all day yesterday. He tells me that after yesterday’s session ended, state Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, acceded to pressure to change her vote from “nay” to “aye,” setting the bill up for potential passage later today – possibly much later today, as the state Senate might tackle competing state budget proposals first.

As Shahab and other activists organize calls and faxes to Ducheny’s office, other state Senators are feeling the heat well. Walter Stanley of Livermore, for example, yesterday was organizing “fax bombs” targeting the offices of state Senators Dean Florez, D-Shafter, and Gloria Negrete-McLeod, D-Chino, to try to convince them to vote against the bill.

The Assembly passed AB 1934 on a 46-30 vote June 1.

Gun-rights activists have seized upon open-carry laws in states across the nation as a means of expressing their political beliefs, acting individually or gathering to carry their weapons both as an exercise of constitutional rights and for self-protection. They say they’re both protecting their rights under current law as well as advocating for changes so that more people can get permits to carry concealed weapons, something that’s sharply limited under current law.

Advocates of Saldana’s bill say open-carry practices should be banned for the sake of public safety, and to protect the safety and conserve the resources of police officers who must check to ensure the guns aren’t loaded in accordance with state law.

UPDATE @ 6:18 P.M.: The bill was called just before 6 p.m. State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, acting as the bill’s Senate floor manager, called it “a number one priority for the California Police Chiefs (Association)” and called open carry “a burden on public safety.” The vote was 11 in favor, 10 opposed, with a lot of absentees; DeSaulnier put the bill back on call, so again we wait…

UPDATE @ 9:45 P.M.: Shahab posted this Facebook update a few minutes ago: “Senator DeSaulnier and Assemblymember DeLeon are now pressuring Ducheny to vote for AB 1934. Call Ducheny’s office.”

UPDATE @ 11:30 P.M.: The state Senate has passed AB 1934 on a 21-16 vote; Ducheny voted yes.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.