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.
“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.