‘Open carry’ ban advances to await floor vote

Almost lost in yesterday’s new-budget-deal shuffle was the forward movement of AB 144, the bill to ban the “open carry” of unloaded firearms in public places.

The state Senate Appropriations Committee determined the bill would have little or no fiscal impact to the state, so it was referred directly from the committee to the floor without a vote under Senate Rule 28.8, I was told today by Wendy Gordon, spokeswoman for bill author Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge.

A state Senate floor vote is expected sometime this summer, and if it passes, it goes to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk; the Assembly already passed it last month.

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.

Working with the California Police Chiefs Association and the Police Officers Research Association of California on this bill “has made me quite unpopular with the ‘Open Carry’ movement, but law enforcement says it wastes time and resources when they could be out catching bad guys,” Portantino said in a news release issued after yesterday’s committee action. “Instead, they are tied up dealing with calls from the public about gun-toting men and women in the coffee shop. As law enforcement officials tell me, it’s not safe and someone is going to get hurt.”

AB 144 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 $1000. Law enforcement personnel are exempt as are security guards, hunters and others carrying unloaded weapons under specified licensed circumstances.

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.

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

    “they (law enforcement) are tied up dealing with calls from the public about gun-toting men and women in the coffee shop.”


    Factually untrue from personal knowledge and observation. Just more hysterical lunatic liberal anti-gun rhetoric.

  • It’s human nature for politicians to become domestic enemies of the US Constitution. It’s the reason we have established term limits and require our representatives to swear an oath to preserve and protect the only document which protects the citizens from the government. It’s an unfortunate consequence of our species where those in power work tirelessly to remove the power of others. The authors and supporters of this bill (AB144) are operating above the law and government that support them. Every citizen needs to work within the guidelines of the California Constitution to initiate a recall of any representatives who violate their oath of office by denying their constituency the rights granted to every citizen in the Constitution of the United States of America. Recall petitions will begin when and if AB144 is passed by the California Senate and subsequently signed by the Governor, Jerry Brown.

    “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” This is not open to negotiation nor interpretation.

  • JR

    Yep, we’ve been filing PRA requests targeted at the times that open carriers congregate, and prove the “police” organizations to be propagandists only interested in violating civil rights and keeping criminals safe.

    As an editor, former copy editor, and reporter, all I can say is… Fact check, people. Fact check.

  • Ray

    So, open carry wastes police officers time and resources? Maybe they should be provided with additional training on unconstitutional Penal Code 12031(e). They are not required to make contact with someone who isn’t breaking the law. If calls come in from uninformed citizens who are unaware of the right to openly bear arms in California, then the public safety dispatchers could simply let the caller know that it’s a legal practice and consider it a public safety service to those they serve in the community. I hope to see AB 144 defeated on the floor of the Senate.

  • John W

    If the authors of the Constitution in general, and the Second Amendment in particular, were around today, I suspect they would howl with laughter at the open carry, “my cold dead hands” crowd and scoff at Justice Scalia’s interpretation of their amendment. They would probably say the Second needs a serious rewrite to reflect its real intended purpose. Thanks to court rulings and gun-friendly legislatures, the laws have never in our history been more gun friendly than they are today. Yet, the gun rights movement acts like a bunch of victims whose rights and liberties are being stomped upon. They say we don’t need new laws, just enforcement of existing ones. Yet, the existing ones were enacted over their strenuous objections in more reasonable times. The NRA, which once concentrated on things like teaching gun safety to Boy Scouts, is now a self-perpetuating fund-raising machine designed for the benefit of firearms manufacturers but masquerading as a defender of liberties.

  • Yih-Chau Chang

    To John W.’s point, I would just find out whether or not the Founding Fathers had anything to say about the issue outside of the 2nd Amendment. Since John W. seems to be focused on their opinions if they were around today, then I’ll limit the Founding Fathers’ quotes on this issue strictly to those of a timeless nature.

    “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” – Thomas Jefferson, Proposed Virginia Constitution, 1776

    “The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.” – Samuel Adams of Massachusetts — U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788

    “The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside…Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them…” – Thomas Paine (1737-1809) Source: I Writings of Thomas Paine at 56, 1894

  • Yih-Chau Chang

    As far as AB 144 goes, if passed, this bill will be challenged in court, and, in the meantime, Open Carry advocates will continue to Open Carry in public. The only difference is, now they will be carrying rifles and shotguns instead of the tame-by-comparison handguns. In their bid for political correctness (the issue can’t be about public safety since, in the 160-year history of California, there has never even been one single instance of a violent crime being committed by an Open Carry advocate), the Democrats in the California State Legislature should really take a long and hard look at the consequences of their actions and ask themselves, “If seeing openly-displayed and properly-holstered handguns are upsetting, then would seeing thousands of law-abiding citizens carrying rifles and shotguns on Main Street, California be an improvement?”

  • John W

    Well, if events unfold as forecast by Yih-Chau Chang (#7), it will surely be exciting. As the comment seems to acknowledge, only the politically-motivated desire to avoid totally freaking out onlookers has limited the exercise of open-carry to holstered handguns by clean-cut suburbanites. I can hardly wait until the neo-Nazis (they have the same First Amendment and Second Amendment rights as anybody else) parade through Walnut Creek, “rifles and shotguns” in hand.

  • JR

    People carrying long arms who refuse to be defenseless victims like John W and many in the government work towards, would be an improvement in their eyes. Long arms slung across backs are slower to deploy and easier for criminals to notice far in advance.

    Sidearms are typically noticed by the criminal in the seconds before they commit a crime, and almost always result in the criminal being deterred from said crime as no sane criminal wants to get shot.

    This is why the criminals in the government want to ban sidearms – armed law-abiders are a threat to criminals, and criminals alone.

  • Yih-Chau Chang

    Well, if there are any neo-Nazis in the Open Carry Movement in California, then they must still be in the closet. None of the Open Carry advocates I’ve ever met fall under that category. Anyone wishing to find out what the typical Open Carry advocate looks like in the Golden State can simply go to the Responsible Citizens of California website and take a look at any of the 1,524 photos that are available online. If there is one homogenous quality that defines the typical Open Carry advocate, then it is concept of diversity. Anyone can clearly see for themselves that there are many Asians, Latinos, African Americans, and Causcasians that are actively involved as well as a significant number of individuals from the LGBT community, especially high-ranking members of the Pink Pistols. Women comprise of about 40% of our activists. The neo-Nazi characterization simply holds no water. As JR recommends above, fact checking is always a good idea.

  • John W

    Re #10

    Nobody said Open Carry is made up of, or includes any neo-Nazis. The point is that, if the suburban warriors of OC can strut their stuff wherever they choose, so can anybody else. I used neo-Nazis as an example. But I could think of others. Given their proclivity for getting in people’s faces, it is not a stretch to imagine them getting the idea to show up at Starbucks or some other venue armed with the same toys that the OC people bring to town. Delightful for cops who have to figure out who is just making a statement and who might “go postal.”

  • If the bill succeeds, get ready for rifle and shotgun carry on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade and Starbucks from San Francisco to San Diego as the bill essentially requires open carry of long guns only. Sign the petition for California at http://opencarry.org/ca2011.html and see more at http://forum.opencarry.org/forums/showthread.php?92145-California-bill-to-force-long-gun-open-carry-in-public-places

  • Elwood

    Pretty thin gruel, John W.

    You’re stretching thinner and thinner in your quest to deny people their constitutional rights.

    Try to find some reality-based arguments.

  • Ray

    After checking the link above I noticed @StopAB144 has more followers than @Portantino does on Twitter. Hmmm?



  • For Liberty

    Glad to know John W. is not sitting in the chair of the high court trying to interpret our founding fathers, especially the part that reads, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

  • For Liberty

    Though I’m not an NRA member, nor am I defending them, however they do provide a lot of services beside political lobbying for the cause of the loss of OUR liberties.

    From the NRA website: “The NRA is the nation’s leader in introducing youth to the safe and proper use of firearms. The NRA offers a wide variety of programs for youth interested in recreational,competitive and hunting shooting sports activities.”

  • John W

    Not sure what it is that makes in-your-face gun activists fixate on how far they can push the envelope on gun rights as the be-all measure of liberty in the U.S. If the government was out there trying to take away people’s guns, I’d probably be marching in the streets with the gun people. For anybody who thinks I’m some gun control freak, I happen to think the Supremes got it right in the D.C. case. If the gun lobby ever supported reasonable restrictions that even Scalia has indicated would probably be ruled constitutional, I might be more sympathetic. But they don’t. They take the “slippery slope” argument to extremes. It’s not so much the guns that bug me. It’s the people who are obsessed with them.

  • “The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense calls upon the American people in general and the black people in particular to take careful note of the racist California Legislature which is now considering legislation aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless at the very same time that racist police agencies throughout the country are intensifying the terror, brutality, murder, and repression of black people.” – Huey P Newton, 1967 in reference to the Mulford Act which would be expanded by AB 144.

  • JR

    John W, don’t believe everything you hear from the pro-victim disarmament, pro-criminal safety, crowd.

  • Elwood

    My, it’s good to see someone quoting Dr. Huey P. Newton, the notorious freak and crackhead who got his brains blown out on a West Oakland street corner.

  • John W

    Huey Newton. There’s a golden oldie.


    My views, whatever you may think of them, are not shaped or informed by any of the “crowds” that you mention. I would say they are shaped more by the “I should be able to carry any gun in any place at anytime, guns don’t kill people, my absolute right to carry firearms always trumps your right to safety, we may have to resort to Second Amendment remedies crowd.

  • John W

    I’m sure if another group similar to the Huey’s Panthers in 1967, or my hypothetical neo-Nazis were to again conduct an armed Second Amendment demonstration inside the state capitol, they would have the enthusiastic support of today’s open carry folks.

  • JR

    “I should be able to carry any gun in any place at anytime”
    That quote was invented by victim disarmer false flag fliers. Reality: Just where the the government cannot, and is not legally required to (based on reams of case law) protect anyone, or everyone, at all.

    “guns don’t kill people”

    Reality: Guns don’t have brains or free will. Even if innocents are disarmed and defenseless as too many in the .gov and anti-civil rights movement work towards, the vast majority of the time, handguns are ineffective at causing mortal wounds (see all the available medical research).

    “my absolute right to carry firearms always trumps your right to safety”

    More quotes from the victim disarmer false-flaggers. Reality: The pre-existing, inherent human right to self-defense (survival) applies to all innocents. This is the right to safety. Anything else is pro-criminal, period.

    “we may have to resort to Second Amendment remedies” crowd.

    Another quote in an inflammatory context used by victim disarmers. Reality: If any government tries to complete its ultimate goal of civilian disarmament which has ALWAYS preceded genocide throughout history, then yes, innocents have the right to not be marched off to the gas chamber, etc…, and use any means necessary (our inherent human right to stay alive).

    So please stop parroting the worshippers of Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, ultimate evil, etc…

  • John W

    Re #23 “JR Says

    “Handguns are ineffective at causing mortal wounds?”

    You betcha! Have you discussed the “available medical research” with the hundreds of law abiders killed each year in home handgun accidents? Or with Congresswoman Giffords? Oops, sorry, I forgot. She didn’t lose her life, just part of her brain. Of course, a federal judge and several others weren’t so lucky. Have we discussed this research with Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley? Robert Kennedy? John Lennon? Almost died President Reagan and press aide Brady? All handgun mishaps, as I recall. Innocents killed in hand-gun cross-fire on the streets of Oakland, SF, SJ, Richmond etc? If only they had been armed? They no doubt would have been able to prevent their demise!

    Guess Justice Scalia must be one of those false flag flier worshippers of Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao. As he wrote that the Second Amendment rights are not absolute. Just guessing, but I’m pretty sure the good justice favors the rule that prevents even law-abiding people from bringing firearms to Supreme Court. arguments.

    The only person I ever disarmed was myself, the day they discharged me from the Army 40 years ago this month. Never felt the need to boost my self-esteem by wearing a Glock to high crime areas, such as Starbucks.

  • JR

    Emotional and/or victim disarmers’ arguments will get you nowhere. We’re done here.

  • Elwood

    “Never felt the need to boost my self-esteem by wearing a Glock to high crime areas, such as Starbucks.”

    You’re unclear on the concept, John W. These people are merely exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. And regardless of dimmiecrat demagogic laws that may be passed by the insane CA leg. they will continue to do so until the Constitution is amended. (And don’t hold your breath waiting for that.)

  • John W

    Definitely won’t hold my breath on that one, Elwood. I strongly favor the status quo on CCW permitting. And, unless SCOTUS rules otherwise, the status quo is not in conflict with the Second Amendment.

  • JR

    The status quo is corruption, institutionalized bribery to exercise fundamental human rights, and pro-criminal safety above the almighty dollar. Inherently in conflict with the Second Amendment. End of line.

  • Eric

    To MR W- You need to ask all the people groups throughout history that have been disarmed how that worked out for them. Aside from the few that may have enjoyed it the end result was the murder of millions of innocent citizens by their own governments- and that is historical fact. The
    Reason and only reason the second amendment exists was to keep that from happening here. The. Founding fathers came from a gov tyranny and KNEW EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE DOING WHEN THEY WROTE THE SECOND AMENDMENT.
    In the words of mr braveheart “FREEDOM!”