The AB 144 ‘open carry’ ban update

I guess this isn’t much of an update, in that nobody knows what’s going to happen.

AB 144 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, would make 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.

The Assembly passed the bill in May on a 46-29 vote, and after gun-rights activists spent the summer leaning on state Senators to oppose the bill, the Senate approved it on a 21-18 vote last Thursday; the Assembly then concurred in the Senate’s amendments last Friday with a 48-30 vote last Friday, sending the bill to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

And there it sits, fate unknown. Someone in Brown’s office told me today he’s not sure what the governor will do; the Sacramento Bee is reporting that Brown says he’s going to be vetoing a slew of bills in the next few weeks, believing many of them just aren’t necessary. I’d talked with Portantino’s office yesterday, where they said they’re “cautiously optimistic” but unsure where the governor stands.

Meanwhile, the bill’s opponents keep working the social media, trying to get people to call Brown’s office to urge a veto.

“And if Governor Brown does decide to sign AB 144, it is almost certain that the law will be challenged in court,” Adnan Shahab of Fremont, president of Responsible Citizens of California and a Republican candidate in the 20th Assembly District, said in an e-mail he sent me late last week. “There are constitutional issues that must addressed, as well as how this law relates to the recent court ruling that the highly discriminatory shall-issue concealed weapons permitting process in California is legal partly because open carry is also available to residents as an alternate means of carry in this state.”

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.

Supporters of this bill, including the California Police Chiefs Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California and various gun-control groups, 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.

  • BGR

    Good summary of the rock and the hard place, Thanks Josh.

  • The Senate approved it on a 21-18 (not 8 ) vote.

  • Josh Richman

    Charles: I’ve corrected the typo; thanks.

  • Ryan

    Figures – typical politicians knee-jerk reaction about things they know very little about. A majority of states in the US have open carry with LOADED weapons.

    Here in s PA not only do police not have to check and see if they are loaded, unless you are in the middle of committing a crime they don’t even have RAS to ask to see if you are the owner of the gun. The gun control advocates have no stats to show that OC causes problems, other than maybe causing people that don’t know it is legal to wet their pants.

  • John W

    Unless Jerry has a heretofore unknown fondness for the NRA, he should sign the bill and let the legal process begin. That’s the only way we will find out what the boundaries are on the individual right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. Both gun rights and gun control advocates should welcome the opportunity.

  • Jack S

    Please sign this bill Gov Brown. I am sick and tired of being dispatched to calls involving the open carry crowd.

  • Elwood

    Jack S:

    Where do you work?

    I live in central CC County and I’ve never heard of police being dispatched “to calls involving the open carry crowd.”

    Won’t you please enlighten us, assuming you really are a police officer and not just a sock puppet?

  • John W

    Anybody making bets on what Jerry will do? He’s already told the legislature that he intends to veto many, if not most bills. He’s also a gun owner, which is an interesting contrast for a guy who flirted with Buddhism and hung out with Mother Theresa.

  • redc1c4

    i want him to sign it so we can get a court order eliminating the “may issue” and forcing “shall issue”.

    of course, Jerry is just smart enough to understand that, so he might veto the bill.

    besides, he doesn’t care one way or the other: he has armed bodyguards we pay for.


    Californians should figure out why they’re so incompetent that they can’t carry firearms responsibly. Here in Pennsylvania we have over 850,000 (6.76%) with concealed carry permits. Open carry (loaded) is legal, but not an issue. We have no mayhem and chaos in the streets from either group. I guess we Pennsylvanians, as a whole, are just more responsible than Californians. I wonder why.

  • John W

    Re: #10

    “Here in Pennsylvania we have over 850,000 with concealed carry permits.”

    Just curious. Anybody know what the number is in California under “may issue?” Is there a county-by-county breakdown — both in numbers and percentage of population? That would be interesting to see.

  • All I had been in a country in the sixties and late seventies where you were allowed to carry.
    The people protected themselves. There weren’t violent outbursts, then the government banned the ownership of weapons. There is more mayhem now than in those old days. Criminals, gangs and Cartels carry the loaded weapons now and they don’t care about any type of gun laws one way or the other because they know that those that get in the way are unarmed and they can be eliminated in an instant.
    Criminal types of individuals have no morals. I know for sure most armed law abiding citizens do.
    who was that armed country? Just look south of our boarder, that’s what happens when you disarm a country and the citizens can no longer defend themselves.


  • Please veto!!!!!!!
    i feel safer with law abiding carrying side arms than trusting our law enforcement, with- their cutbacks, to protect us from the growing gang related violence; the state can’t take these rights from us…see our constitution I believe Gov. Brown is going to Veto, because he is a gun owner too for a reason; he is not your typical hypocrite politician. We have the right to protect ourselves if we feel the need.


    First step is to remove your right to DUE PROCESS and then they take away your guns. CHECKMATE

    SBX211 Retro Active Immunity given to California judges for openly taking bribes. Judges are employees of the state they receive their pay and benefits from the state. The Los Angeles Superior court judges are currently receiving an additional $57.688,00 from the county of Los Angeles. there is no bigger user of the court than L.A. County.(A party to the case and has a financial interest in most cases in the courts) Those payments were found to be unconstitutional / illegal in Sturgeon vs L.A. County. after that decision the judges paid a lobbyist to pass SBX211 ( RETRO ACTIVE IMMUNITY )

    SBX211 does not restore due process
    SBX211 violates Article 1 section 9
    SBX211 violates the 14th amendment (no equal protections)
    SBX211 violate checks and balances between legislative and Judicial powers
    Judges do not disclose the county payments at the onset of any trial where the county is either a party to the case or has a financial interest. (Judges violate Judicial codes of ethics)
    Judges refuse to recuse themselves when requested under CCP170
    Judges find themselves unbiased and then file an order striking statement.

    In the year of 2010 alone $57,688.00 per year per judge X 460 judges = $26,709.544.00 paid to judges from L.A. County from tax payer money to only have the judges rule against the tax payer in favor of L.A. County or the County’s interest. THE BRIBES WORK.

    1. given for unconstitutional use of torture
    2. given for illegal merger of banks (we can see the effects of that now)
    3. given to telecom company for illegal wire taps. (Fisa bill that led to the patriot act)
    4. SBX211 given to Judges for taking bribes.

    SBX211 is evidence of conspiracy of the California legislative branch of government to cover up the multiple felony’s committed by the Judicial branch of government. By an act of Legislation, California’s judicial branch has admitted to be corrupt.

    This bill would provide that no governmental entity, or officer or employee of a governmental entity, shall incur any liability or be subject to prosecution or disciplinary action because of benefits provided to a judge under the official action of a governmental entity prior to the effective date of this bill on the ground that those benefits were not authorized under law.

  • geoff

    2 of my favorite Heinlein quotes

    An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.
    -Robert A. Heinlein


    No statement should be believed because it is made by an authority.
    -Robert A. Heinlein

  • John W

    @16 Geoff

    The problem with the Heinlein quote is that it assumes that ultra-politeness is a worthy goal to be secured by the fear of getting shot. If somebody cuts in line to buy the latest I-Phone, I’d probably just keep my mouth shut. But it would not be inappropriate for somebody else to speak up. They shouldn’t have to refrain from doing so out of fear that somebody is having a bad day and will unholster his gun. Everyday life is full of more important circumstances where people should intervene on some level but would hesitate to do so in “an armed society.”