Gov. Jerry Brown today signed a bill into law extending the state’s ban on “open carry” of unloaded handguns in public places to include rifles and shotguns as well.
AB 1527’s author, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, issued a news release thanking the governor “for recognizing the importance of this public safety measure that will help reduce the threat of gun violence for the public and for law enforcement.
“Open Carry wastes law enforcement time and resources by taking attention away from criminal activity and solving crimes,” Portantino said. “It’s a bad situation for everyone – the police, the gun owner and innocent families who could be injured by this risky and unnecessary brandishing of weapons on Main Street, California.”
The ban on “open carry” of rifles and shotguns will go into effect Jan. 1.
Last year’s 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. So Portantino introduced AB 1527 to prohibit this as well; the bill includes exemptions to allow safe transportation, lawful hunting and use by law enforcement officials.
AB 1527 was supported by groups including the California Police Chiefs Association, the Peace Officer Research Association of California and the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; it’s opposed by groups including the California Rifle & Pistol Association and the National Rifle Association.
UPDATE @ 2:52 P.M.: Brown vetoed or signed several other firearms bills today.