Police chiefs laud those who banned ‘open carry’

The California Police Chiefs Association last night honored two men largely responsible for the new law banning “open carry” of unloaded handguns in public places.

During a banquet at their 35th Annual Training Symposium in Sacramento, the chiefs gave their most prestigious award – the Joe Molloy Award – to Emeryville Police Chief Ken James.

“Chief James has served the association as the chair of our Firearms Committee for many years and had tirelessly advocated on our behalf on all of the firearms legislation that has been introduced,” CPCA President and Irvine Police Chief Dave Maggard said.

“Additionally, Chief James fought successfully – against great odds – last year to have Cal Chiefs ‘Open Carry’ bill, AB 144, get to the governor’s desk and be signed into law. He led this year’s fight not only on behalf of our members, but on behalf of public safety and the safety of those in our communities. His tenacity on this issue is what enabled the bill to pass. Through it all he has steadfastly stood for what is best for the safety of our communities.”

Named for the late Chief Joe Molloy of Anaheim, the award goes to one who embodies professionalism, leadership, energy, and commitment to the association’s mission.

The chiefs also honored Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, for carrying AB 144. “Getting legislation like this introduced and passed is critical for the safety of our communities and we appreciate Assemblymember Portantino’s leadership,” Maggard said.

Portantino said the recognition means a lot to him, as someone with many relatives in law enforcement.

“I know and respect the dedicated men and women in uniform and the work they do to keep our communities safe and it is a tremendous honor to receive this recognition,” he said. “I have been blessed to have worked closely with the Police Chiefs during my time in office most recently on the bill to ban the open carry of unloaded handguns. California is a safer place because the governor signed our collaborative effort into law.”

AB 144, which took effect Jan. 1, made it illegal to carry an unloaded handgun in any public place or street; law enforcement personnel are exempt as are hunters and others carrying unloaded weapons under specified licensed circumstances. Supporters had said 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.

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.

Some activists reacted to AB 144’s implementation by organizing public events in which they carried unloaded shotguns or rifles rather than handguns. Portantino now is carrying AB 1527, which would prohibit this as well; the CPCA supports this, too.

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.

  • John W.

    Do hand grenades and shoulder-fired missile launchers qualify as “arms” within the meaning of the Second Amendment? Maybe the OC folks can try that if AB1527 passes.

  • Wendy Lack

    The open carry movement arose out of the practices of some counties that refuse to issue conceal carry permits.

    The Chiefs are self-serving and politically-correct, though presumably otherwise well-intentioned. Having a disarmed populace makes things tidy for law enforcement — though at the expense law-abiding citizens’ safety (who are not the primary concern of law enforcement).

    It remains to be seen whether AB 144 will withstand legal challenge. In those counties that refuse to issue conceal carry permits, Californians effectively no longer have Constitutionally-guaranteed 2nd Amendment rights.

  • Elwood

    Remember, when seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.

  • John

    Mass murderers agree – Gun Control Works. Politicians and their lackey police chiefs love disarmed peasants. Just ask Adolf Hitler, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot, the North Korean Kims, Ida Amin Dada Jr……and many others.

  • JR

    How many innocents have to be murdered, raped, and maimed as a direct result of “gun control” such as the open carry ban, before “gun control” supporters are held criminally responsible for their actions? Ignorance is no defense.

  • Wendy, I open carried on a daily basis before the ban went into effect. I didn’t do it because I wanted a government approved permission slip to carry a concealed firearm, and they wouldn’t *grant* me one. I openly beared arms because I believe individual, fundamental and constitutionally recognized rights should never require government approval to exercise them. This goes for 1st Amendment protections, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and so on and so on. When we win the Federal lawsuit challenging unconstitutional and racist Penal Code 12031 et seq (the loaded open carry ban) I wonder if the Police Chief’s will retract their award for these two tyrants that refuse to let the facts get into the way of anything they do?

  • Brian

    Our individual rights are eroded step by step, day by day. The founding fathers would roll over in their graves if they could see what this country has become. Revolution may be the next step to regaining our rights.

  • John W.

    Just out of curiosity, and this is a serious question for anybody to answer, how absolute is the Second Amendment in your opinion? Since technology has taken us way beyond muskets and dueling pistols, what “arms” are protected or not protected? Is there a limit? Does “right to bear” mean any place, any time without exception? Should you be able to buy any type of “arms,” in any quantity without any record of the transaction? After all, you don’t have to ask permission or keep records to exercise free speech?

  • Wendy Lack

    @ John W.:

    The Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in a free society should not be infringed.

    While it may comfort you to believe that “technology has taken us way beyond muskets and dueling pistols,” the facts say otherwise.

    Human nature is unchanging. It is now as it ever has been. There is no such thing as “moving beyond” man’s inherent nature.

    The California-mindset aversion to firearms differs from attitudes elsewhere in the country. Where firearms are least regulated and private ownership is prevalent, incidence of violent crime is lowest.

    Strict gun control is directly correlated with higher incidence of crime.

    Infringements on the personal freedoms of law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms result in:

    – Criminals “owning” the streets;

    – The vulnerable (e.g., women, the disabled, the weak and elderly) becoming frequent crime victims; and

    – Law enforcement playing a losing defensive game, often showing up in time to draw chalklines on the pavement and write up homicide reports.

    Don’t believe me: Ask residents of the highest-crime areas of California where law-abiding citizens effectively have been disarmed by gun regulations, even as they are terrorized by armed criminals and law enforcement is overwhelmed.

  • Elwood

    Remember, when seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.

  • John W.

    Re: #9

    Wendy Lack,

    You told me why 2nd Amendment rights are important to protect. However, that doesn’t respond to the question I posed — which is whether or not there are any restrictions and requirements (other than prohibitions pertaining to the mentally ill or violent felons) that gun rights advocates would ever consider to be (a) reasonable and (b) constitutional.

    The Constitution does not delimit either “arms” or “to keep and bear.” Nor does it use a phrase such as “within reason.” Therefore, if one takes a literalist view of the constitution, as gun rights advocates seem to do (at least when it comes to the 2nd Amendment), then you would have to conclude that anything goes — even the most lethal weapons of war that a person or militia can carry or transport (arms), the biggest arsenal (to keep) and “any place at any time” (to bear).

    The 2nd Amendment was inspired by the then recent unpleasantness with the Brits and was in keeping with the need of “We the People…[to] provide for the common defence.” The authors were not motivated by the need for relatively low-grade firearms to shoot rattlesnakes or protect against muggers in Oakland. Only the firearms technology and ruralism of the day, not the words in the Constitution, limited the lethalness of a literally interpreted 2nd Amendment. However, we do not have those natural factors today. Only laws and regulations, to the extent allowed, provide the means for some semblance of sanity.

    So, back to the question. Where do you (meaning gun rights advocates in general, not you personally) draw the lines on “arms” and “to keep and bear?” Or do you? Assuming you do, then what is the constitutional basis for those lines?

  • Elwood

    I’ll give up my 155mm howitzer when you pry my cold dead fingers from it!

  • While laws and regulations may provide some “semblance of sanity” they don’t provide any real defense against muggers, rapists and other criminals that prowl our streets and alleys.

    These chiefs of Police are under the mistaken impression that only they and their officers can provide any legal means of protection. They forgot, or never realized that 99% of the time, the police show up AFTER a crime has been committed to clean up the mess, investigate, and hopefully find and arrest the perpetrators.

    For immediate defense, we HAVE to rely on ourselves. Until the day that the Star Trek like transporter is invented, and working, we should never depend on others for our safety and defense. To do so is not only foolish, but naive as well.

  • John W.

    Re: #12

    That’s the spirit!

  • John W.

    Re: #13

    You make a good point. I need something to protect me from Ted Nugent.

    The police generally don’t stop individual street crimes in progress. Their job is primarily to deter crime by patrolling the streets and, as you say, to catch the bad guys when crimes occur. In other words, they reduce the chances that you will be a crime victim in the first place.

    Statistically, other than home protection (where there is broad agreement about the right to possess firearms), the odds of somebody who is legally packing ever stopping a crime against either themselves of others are about as great as the odds of getting struck by lightning. I’m more worried about what happens when every hormonal kid on campus is allowed to carry a gun, when road-rage inclined drivers are allowed, when hyper-emotional sports fans get carried away, when the customer at Wal-Mart having a bad day gets mad because he thinks somebody jumped in line ahead of him, etc., etc.

    Even if you believe it’s a good idea to allow every law-abiding Tom, Dick and Mary to pack, why the resistance to gun registration, mandatory training, signaturized ammo etc.? What’s the problem with reasonable laws about gun show sales?

    Beyond the issue of who, when and where people should be allowed to carry a gun for personal protection, there’s the whole business of high-powered, semi-automatic, military-style arsenals in the possession of people and groups with extremist political agendas. Gun rights advocates seem to feel that stuff is okay, on account of we may need to stop Obama from establishing an Islamic dictatorship.

  • Wendy Lack

    @ John W. #11:

    You’re right. I failed to respond to your question – got distracted along the way. Thanks for the menu prompt.

    I’m no Constitutional scholar or attorney, so I cannot offer you technical legal arguments. I am not an open carry or 2nd Amendment activist. I’m just an average citizen who cherishes individual freedom and understands that private gun ownership is unique in the world. Gun rights are one of the hallmarks of a free society and in a very real way they permit us to maintain our freedoms – or else why would every totalitarian regime on earth outlaw private firearms? Private gun ownership is a right that I cherish.

    Let’s just say that, generally speaking, I object to government telling me what to do, what I can purchase and own, etc. But of course all levels of government have already done this in spades as re firearms, so my sense is that your question is a theoretical one because from a practical standpoint it is moot.

    That point aside, the only other answer I have is that federal, state and local laws currently restrict the ownership and carrying of firearms to varying degrees. The restrictions vary widely by state and county (see a state-by-state breakdown at: http://firearmsfreedomact.com/state-by-state/). Where those restrictions result in the effective disarming of the populace – as is the case for Californians under AB 144 who reside in those counties that severely limit conceal carry permits – the government clearly oversteps its Constitutional boundaries. In such cases individuals (particularly women, the elderly and the disabled) are rendered unable to defend themselves with firearms, if they so choose.

    It is this issue that is of greatest concern to me.

    Government agencies restrict conceal carry permits and some counties deny them altogether. When such restrictions are combined with open carry bans, individual rights to carry a firearm (which I prefer to be permitted on a concealed basis anyway) is clearly infringed. Thus this new CA law is vulnerable to challenge and I expect it is only a matter of time before it is overturned.

    My only other comment in response to your question is this: I invariably err on the side of individual rights to own and do just about anything, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.

    Gun ownership is among the most highly-regulated items sold in the U.S. Nevertheless, gun registration rules do not prevent crooks from buying firearms, any more than punitively high cigarette taxes prevent, say, smokers from purchasing black market cigs.

    If lines need to be drawn regarding 2nd Amendment rights — as indeed they already have been, encompassing the military-grade weaponry and militia issues you reference above — in my view they should be done in a way that is maximally permissive and preserves individual rights.

  • John W.

    RE #16

    Good thoughtful answers. Some of the “where do you draw the line and on what basis” questions I posed would be more interesting to discuss with Justice Scalia. But he doesn’t answer my calls.

    I’m for people having sensible, registered guns in the home for protection and outside the home for recreation, if they want. I’m a strong believer in licenses to carry in public being limited based on need and certified training. To the extent some jurisdictions won’t issue permits even when need is demonstrated, that can be addressed legally. Open carry v concealed is an interesting question. If people are packing, I at least want to know it so that I can make my choice about whether I want to be around them. It’s a little like the hands-free cell phone issue. At least with drivers using hand-held phones, I could see it and protect myself by taking evasive action.

    As for people who think it is or should be their constitutional right to show up at political demonstrations with heavy-duty, military style weapons, loaded or not, let’s just say I disagree.

    Civilians in Iraq under Hussein were well-armed. Most families owned guns. They liked to fire them in the air on holidays. Remember how they fired them in the air when Hussein was ousted? Didn’t seem to enhance their liberties. Gun carriage is more restricted in Canada than in the U.S., and I haven’t heard many Canadians complaining about being oppressed lately.

  • Wendy Lack

    @ John W. #17:

    It sounds as though we can agree on three things:

    1. Each individual is responsible for his/her own personal safety (i.e., that this is not the job of law enforcement);

    2. Nothing can save us from people doing dangerous things. There are many parts of Contra Costa in which firing weapons into the air in holiday celebrations is SOP. It is right and proper for the justice system to throw the book at ’em; and

    3. Stupidity and firearms do not mix.

  • John W.

    Re: #18

    “Stupidity and firearms do not mix.”

    Or cell phones! No texting while shooting!”

  • Elwood

    If I can’t text him, how will I know whether I hit him or not?

  • John W.

    Maybe you can equip the bullets with GPS.

  • creekside

    @John W.

    “I’m for people having sensible, registered guns in the home for protection and outside the home for recreation, if they want.”

    California is not the place for you. Soldiers assigned to military bases in California have to leave their legally owned and properly configured semiautomatic rifles behind.

    When people who hate guns define “sensible,” the result is the present absurdity of safe firearms being kept out of California by the “Safe Gun Roster” while police officers make money on the side by selling non-roster handguns using special privileges; high powered rifles being more legal than short range, limited power carbines; and last but not least, a general lack of firearms safety encouraged by Hollywood using its special get-out-of-jail free card called the “Entertainment Firearms Permit.”

    “I’m a strong believer in licenses to carry in public being limited based on need and certified training.”

    Given police response times and homicide rates, every trained resident of Oakland would qualify under this standard. I have seen a copy of a CCW rejection letter sent by the Police Chief of the City of Oakland to … a firearms attorney!

    As a member of the Pink Pistols, I share a belief that “Armed gays don’t get bashed[.]” and “Our lives are worth defending!”

    In practice it is impossible in the San Francisco Bay Area for a law-abiding firearms owner to get a concealed weapons permit. This is even if the firearms owner has survived repeated criminal attacks, lives in a high crime neighborhood, or is at higher risk due to their livelihood or profession.

    “To the extent some jurisdictions won’t issue permits even when need is demonstrated, that can be addressed legally.”

    Calguns Foundation is trying. There has been a lot of push back and resistance. The same Legislature that wants to ban open carry of long arms rejected proposals to make CCW shall issue.

    It looks as though police want a monopoly on firearms in public. I am puzzled as to why otherwise intelligent leftists are so comfortable with this idea.

    “Open carry v concealed is an interesting question. If people are packing, I at least want to know it so that I can make my choice about whether I want to be around them.”

    The Legislature made this choice for you, first in 1967 when they criminalized loaded firearms in response to the Black Panthers, and now with AB 144 open carry at the behest of law enforcement.

    I actually agree that loaded open carry would be a valuable option for exactly that reason. However, this state has historically chosen concealed carry.

    You are aware of the racist roots of gun control, and that most of the gun control laws in California were passed to disarm unpopular minorities such as Hispanics (handgun CCW), Japanese-Americans (nunchucks) and blacks (Mulford Act, loaded firearms.)

    A remnant of this can be seen in the weapons laws where CCWing a pistol you own is a misdemeanor but carrying a double-edged knife or a pistol you do not own is a felony.

    “As for people who think it is or should be their constitutional right to show up at political demonstrations with heavy-duty, military style weapons, loaded or not, let’s just say I disagree.”

    The right to keep and bear arms is a Constitutional right, intimately tied to the human right to self defense as recognized in the common law.

    I’m not clear on what you consider a heavy-duty, military style weapon. The M4 and AR being kept in every police officer’s trunk? The .30-.30 deer rifle superior in power and accuracy?

    The possession of a concealed pistol or loaded firearm while picketing is already unlawful. (PC 12590)

    “Civilians in Iraq under Hussein were well-armed. Most families owned guns. They liked to fire them in the air on holidays. Remember how they fired them in the air when Hussein was ousted? Didn’t seem to enhance their liberties.”

    Tell it to the Kurds, the marsh Arabs or any enemy of the Hussein regime. First disarmed, then destroyed.

    “Gun carriage is more restricted in Canada than in the U.S., and I haven’t heard many Canadians complaining about being oppressed lately.”

    I spent some time in Canada last year. They’re scrapping their Long Gun Registry as unworkable and a waste of money.