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Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill banning ‘open carry’

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law AB 144, the bill to outlaw the “open carry” of unloaded handguns in public places.

The bill was among the very last that he signed last night before the midnight deadline; I received the legislative update at 12:07 a.m. There was no signing message, and as far as I know, he never said a public word about this bill.

“The Governor has shown common sense and real courage by standing with law enforcement and victims of gun violence to make our communities safer,” said Dallas Stout, president of the California Brady Campaign Chapters. “By prohibiting the open carry of guns, we can now take our families to the park or out to eat without the worry of getting shot by some untrained, unscreened, self-appointed vigilante.”

Adnan Shahab of Fremont, president of Responsible Citizens of California, issued a statement expressing disappointment.

“The right to Open Carry has been legal in the State of California since its inception, and there has never been a single case of an Open Carry advocate ever committing a violent crime in the Golden State’s entire 160-year history,” Shahab wrote. “Since no problem has ever existed that needs to be addressed or fixed, there was no reason for AB 144 in the first place.”

Shahab said his group will work with other gun-rights groups “to plot the best possible course of action moving forward.” He also noted AB 144 bans open carry of handguns but not of long guns: “Since the State Legislature and the Governor have chosen to attack the right to carry handguns, law-abiding citizens who wish to be able to protect themselves from violent criminals have no choice but to Open Carry long guns instead.”

California is behind the times, he insisted. “Most other states have been expanding the basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right to self defense for their electorate. It is time for our elected officials in California to stop eroding every law-abiding citizen’s Second Amendment Rights. Instead, our public servants should be working to firmly protect the basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right to self defense and take deliberate action toward expanding these critical civil rights for all law-abiding Californians.”

AB 144, by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, makes 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 Sept. 8; the Assembly then concurred in the Senate’s amendments Sept. 9 with a 48-30 vote, sending it to Brown.

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.

UPDATE @ 8:58 A.M.: “I want to thank Governor Brown for recognizing the importance of this public safety measure that will help reduce the threat to the public and to law enforcement,” Portantino said. “‘Open carry’ wastes law enforcement time and resources when they could be out catching criminals or solving crimes. Instead, when officers are called to investigate the display of a weapon on an ‘open carry’ proponent, it takes their attention away from where it’s needed and puts folks at unnecessary risk.”

“We worked closely with law enforcement on this bill – both the California Police Chiefs Association and Police Officers Research Association of California – because they felt strongly that “open carry” is not safe and that someone could get hurt or worse,” he added.

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Brown’s list of ‘public safety’ bills might be telling

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bunch of bills today that he said will strengthen public safety in California, but what he didn’t sign might be just as interesting.

Among the bills he signed was one that extends from 45 days to 60 the advance notice that the state prisons must give local police and prosecutors before the scheduled release date of an inmate convicted of a violent felony. Another will incrementally increase minimum restitution fines from $200 to $300 for a felony and from $100 to $150 for a misdemeanor. Yet another lets crime victims request to be notified by e-mail when there’s a change in the custody status of their victimizers.

The governor signed two bills by Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro. SB 534 changes California’s sexual assault testing protocol to conform with federal requirements for Violence Against Women Act funding – for example, the bill specifies that any sexual assault victim who seeks a forensic medical exam isn’t required to engage with law enforcement in order to receive the free exam. And SB 622 requires out-of-state sex offenders to register in California upon moving here; Corbett said today this “makes it tougher for those who commit sex crimes in other states to hide in California.”

But the governor vetoed SB 296 by state Sen. Roderick Wright, D-Los Angeles, which would’ve created a process for someone subject to a gang injunction to petition for relief from that injunction if he or she meets certain criteria including no arrests, gang activity or new gang tattoos within the past three years.

“This measure would require that a special form be given to gang members when they are served with an injunction to make it easier to petition the court for an exclusion from the injunction,” the governor wrote in his veto message. “Under current law, people who are served with a gang injunction are given the full panoply of legal rights to contest an injunction against them. Prosecutors believe this bill will increase meritless litigation in our courts which are already laboring under severe cut backs. I agree.”

And conspicuously missing from the list of public safety bills the governor addressed was AB 144 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, which would ban the “open carry” of unloaded firearms in public places. The California Police Chiefs Association and the Peace Officers Research Association of California, along with 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.

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.

An absence of action on the bill so far certainly isn’t conclusive, but it does seem interesting that the governor apparently didn’t see it as easily categorizeable with the public safety bills on which he acted today.

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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.

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‘Open carry’ ban bill’s author says it’s not dead

The state Senate moved a bill to outlaw the “open carry” of unloaded firearms in public places to its inactive file yesterday, but the bill’s author insists it’s definitely not dead.

AB 144 is not dead; it’s a procedural move, it will be taken up soon,” Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, said today.

AB 144 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 opponents have been hard at work this summer trying to bring pressure to bear on individual Senators. The StopAB144 Twitter group tweeted Tuesday that “at least five Senate Democrats have issues” with the bill, and “all five were Senators that we have been urging to vote no.”

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 have promised to sue if the bill passes.

Supporters of this bill 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.

This Friday is the last day to amend bills on the floor; next Friday, Sept. 9, is the last day for each house to pass bills.

A similar bill, AB 1934 by Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, D-San Diego, died in September 2010 without a final vote after two days of tense maneuvering; Saldaña was then term-limited out of office. The state Senate approved her bill on a 21-16 vote after state senators Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, and Gloria Negrete-McLeod, D-Chino, lent last-minute support despite a phone and fax blitz by gun-rights activists. But the bill had to win a concurrence vote in the Assembly, where Republicans threatened to run out the clock on the bill by debating it until after the midnight deadline — thus also threatening other bills awaiting votes. Majority Leader Chuck Calderon, D-Whittier, eventually won a motion to delay AB 1934’s consideration, and there it died.

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Senate may vote Monday on ‘open carry’ bill

A legislative staffer tells me that AB 144 – Assemblyman Anthony Portantino’s bill to ban the “open carry” of unloaded firearms in public places – will come up for a California State Senate floor vote this Monday, Aug. 22.

The Assembly passed the bill in May on a 46-29 vote, and opponents have been hard at work this summer trying to bring pressure to bear on individual Senators.

Yih-Chau Chang, spokesman for the pro-open-carry Responsible Citizens of California, in May said there’s a “pretty good chance of seeing it defeated on the Senate floor,” and if not, Gov. Jerry Brown “has supported second amendment rights in the past, so I believe there’s a good chance he wont sign the bill.” If the bill is signed into law, he said, it will face a challenge in court.

AB 144 makes 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.

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.

UPDATE @ 3:25 P.M.: False alarm; looks as if the staffer with whom I spoke earlier today was mistaken. Trent Hager, Portantino’s chief of staff, just emailed me to say AB 144 “will be brought up soon but not next Monday.”

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Dems war over releasing Assembly spending info

Pressed to release Assembly members’ spending records, Speaker John Perez has snapped right into action and… appointed a task force.

John PerezPerez, D-Los Angeles, today named Assembly Rules Committee Chairwoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, to head a legislative records task force that will “review the status, rules and procedures governing legislative records.” That task force will be charged with rolling out a reform proposal by the start of next year’s session.

“I believe that updating our policies to reflect the 21st century world we live in is a vital step toward that effort,” Perez said. “How taxpayer dollars are expended is public information, and it is our job to ensure that the public has access to it. Currently, at my direction, all Assembly staff salaries are available on a publicly accessible web site, and we release audits of the Assembly budget annually.”

But at least one Democrat isn’t waiting for the task force’s recommendations.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, announced today he has introduced an amendment to the Standing Rules of the Assembly calling for all Assembly financial records to be made public.

Anthony Portantino“Californians deserve the respect of the legislature by having access to how their money is being spent,” he said in a news release. “We have used the better part of this legislative year legislating good practices in cities such as Bell and Vernon. We need to lead by example and not shroud our budgets in secrecy.”

Portantino also is looking for “fairness in budgeting for all members’ office expenses and precludes leadership from either rewarding or punishing a member for voting their conscience” – a topic that’s been on his mind lately.

“Unfortunately, leadership needs to be brought into the sunshine kicking and screaming,” he said. “Under HR20, the adoption of members’ budgets would be done in an open and public hearing instead of behind closed doors. Not only will members’ budgets be made available, but, all Assembly leadership, committee, caucuses and all administrative budgets for the Assembly will have to be disclosed in comprehensive detail. It is outrageous, unacceptable and wrong to keep the public in the dark when it comes to spending their money.”

Read the full text of Perez’ statement, after the jump…
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