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‘Open carry’ foes turn attention to long guns

Some California gun-rights advocates had reacted to the state’s new law banning “open carry” of unloaded handguns in public places by openly carrying unloaded long guns instead, but a new bill from the same author aims to nip that in the bud, too.

shotgunAssemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge – now a lame duck, soon to be term-limited out of the Assembly and not pursuing a state Senate seat – has introduced AB 1527, which would prohibit open carry of rifles and shotguns.

“Last year, the state made it clear that this type of behavior had no place on Main Street, California,” Portantino said in a news release. “Unfortunately, the Open Carry community has decided to once again force our hand by escalating their unnecessary activities and entering our communities with AR-15s and other long guns. I had hoped cooler heads would have prevailed and this law wouldn’t be necessary; obviously that hasn’t been the case and I must once again take action to ensure the safety of our communities.”

AB 1527 includes exemptions to allow safe transportation, lawful hunting and use by law enforcement officials, and like last year’s AB 144 to ban handgun open-carry, is supported by the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The bill is awaiting referral from the Assembly Rules Committee, and probably will be set for hearing by the Assembly Public Safety Committee in late March or early April.

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. The Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown agreed, banning open carry of handguns effective Jan. 1.

I e-mailed a few open-carry advocates this morning for their reactions to Portantino’s new bill, but I haven’t heard back from them yet; when I do, I’ll update this item.

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.