Bill to ban ‘open carry’ advances in state Senate

A bill to ban the “open carry” of unloaded firearms in public moved ahead today as the state Senate Public Safety Committee approved it 4-2.

AB 144 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, now goes to the state Senate Appropriations Committee; the Assembly passed it last month. The bill would make openly carrying an unloaded handgun in any public place or street 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.

“When average Californians go to the mall, movies or Starbucks they shouldn’t face tense situations where law enforcement officials are called out to investigate openly carried firearms,” Portantino said in his news release today. “Our limited resources should not be diverted from real crime situations. Open Carry puts the public in danger as well as law enforcement personnel. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t take a hand gun to buy a cheeseburger.”

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. Opponents 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 checking to ensure the guns aren’t loaded, in accordance with state law.

Among the bill’s supporters are the California Police Chiefs Association; the Peace Officers Research Association of California; Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca; the cities of Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills; and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Yih-Chau Chang, spokesman for the pro-open-carry Responsible Citizens of California, last month said there’s a “pretty good chance of seeing it defeated on the Senate floor,” and if not, Gov. Jerry Brown “has supported second amendment rights in the past, so I believe there’s a good chance he wont sign the bill.” If the bill is signed into law, he said, it will face a challenge in court.

Chang’s group and other gun-rights activists have been using Facebook and Twitter to try to pressure senators to oppose the bill.

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.

  • Elwood

    I’ll feel so much safer if the nanny state bans open carry.


    It’s thugs on the street with illegal guns who are the problem. And a ban on open carry will certainly dissuade them from law breaking.


  • Ray

    This bill is an attack on law abiding residents of this state!

  • John W

    Re #1

    I hear the crime wave at Starbucks in Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill has subsided considerably since the open carry people started hanging out there.

  • When will you wake up California? Who is to blame for what is happening in our state? The who is we! We have allowed the Democrat-Media backed socialists to turn a once vibrant state into a state of mediocrity and social justice. We have done so by not being informed. By not voting, and by choosing to reelect those whose agenda is to destroy freedom from within. The passing of AB144 is just a small example of the slippery slope into pure socialism. The democrat socialists in this state are on a path to destroy our liberty and to remove the ability to defend ourselves against their tyranny. I for one will continue to fight against any effort to take away my right to defend myself and my family. Keep up the fight. Stay informed. Stay involved and stay armed.

  • Elwood

    What Gene said.

  • John W

    Funny that most judicial experts and ordinary folks accept the notion that First Amendment freedoms are not limitless. And political conservatives are generally more inclined than liberals to restricting flag burning as a means of political expression, restricting pornography or deciding where a Muslim place of worship may or may not be built. But, when it comes to the Second Amendment, they are absolutists; and anybody who disagrees is un-American.

  • For Liberty

    This bill seems to be unnecessary and a complete waste of time. It suggests that the “Open Carry” movement has been a waste of time for the police to respond to such circumstances of open carry to inspect citizens’ handguns to ensure they are unloaded. If this bill passes, it will now waste more time, as it will force responding officers to take some type of enforcement action and bring these cases to court for prosecution. The “Open Carry” movement is nothing more than law abiding citizens protesting against our government officials who have either not or restricted the issuing of concealed weapon permits.