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Brown signs bill banning ‘open carry’ of long guns

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.

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Bill to ban long gun ‘open carry’ goes to Brown

A bill to extend the state’s ban on “open carry” of handguns to include long guns as well has been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

AB 1527 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, passed an Assembly concurrence vote 45-30 after about an hour of debate Wednesday, according to the lawmaker’s office. The state Senate had voted 23-15 Monday to pass the bill; the Assembly had approved an earlier version of it May 3 on a 44-29 vote.

shotgunPortantino issued a statement saying the law “will safeguard families confronted by rifle-toting gun enthusiasts and will shield law enforcement personnel from tense situations where they don’t know if the rifle is loaded or unloaded.”

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 is 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.

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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.

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Concealed carry ballot measure starts circulating

A proposed ballot measure that essentially would change California from a state where law enforcement “may issue” permits to carry concealed handguns into one where it “shall issue” such permits has been cleared to start gathering petition signatures, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced late yesterday afternoon.

Here’s the Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure:

CONCEALED FIREARMS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Eliminates good cause and good moral character requirements for license to carry concealed firearms. Compels sheriffs and police chiefs to issue licenses to carry concealed firearms to any eligible applicant with no history of mental illness, substance abuse, or domestic violence, who is not currently under criminal investigation or indictment or currently subject of restraining order. Eliminates sheriffs’ and police chiefs’ option to require applicants complete up to 24 hours of firearms training, and prohibits them from imposing reasonable restrictions or conditions when issuing the firearms license. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state and local expenditures of an unknown amount to process applications for concealed firearms licenses, which would be funded with revenues collected from license application fees. (11-0056)

Proponent David John Clark has until May 14 to gather valid signatures from at least 504,760 registered California voters in order to place the measure on next November’s ballot.

This is a holy grail for gun-rights advocates, and point of many of the “open carry” demonstrations we’ve seen in recent years. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of resources are put behind the signature drive.

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Open carry hubbub alive and well in Concord

The “open carry” debate is hot again in Contra Costa County with a demonstration tonight at the Sun Valley Mall in Concord, but a new law could make this one of the movement’s last public gasps for a while.

Members of Responsible Citizens of California, a gun-rights group, had planned to openly carry unloaded handguns as they meet for dinner tonight at the mall’s BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse.

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: AB 144, a new law taking effect Jan. 1, will prohibit open carry of handguns, although open carriers have vowed to sue.

Concord police drew their ire last week, when two open carriers dining at the mall’s Johnny Rockets burger restaurant were confronted by several police officers and detained for about 20 minutes while police checked their names, their guns’ serial numbers and so on. Tonight’s event at BJ’s was intended to “educate the department” about open-carry rights.

Gun-control advocates got wind of this and decided to do a little educating of their own; the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence started working the phones.

Karen Arntzen, 58, of Pleasant Hill, the group’s services and advocacy coordinator, sent out an e-mail yesterday morning announcing that BJ’s “has announced a Gun-free Dining Policy and will not allow guns on the premises at any time. Manager Mike Gatto called the CA Brady Campaign to say he is trying to let the Open Carriers know ahead of time so they will not show up at the restaurant as planned on Dec. 14th.”

But, Arntzen noted, “Sun Valley Mall does NOT have a Gun-free Policy. The CA Brady Campaign has urged Security Manager Michael Fenley to implement a NO Weapons policy on Mall property for the safety of shoppers and employees.”

Alany Helmantoler, 38, of Concord is organizing tonight’s event and says the show must go on.

“We fully expected this type of thing occurs which is why we were meeting in front of BJ’s. We will guide people at the location,” she said in an e-mail late last night.

“The Brady Campaign has a history of terrorizing and scaring businesses to what is essentially a non-issue. This harassment of businesses will be addressed through their investors,” Helmantoler added. “AB 144 has limited enforcement abilities and is a nightmare for law enforcement agencies that are already suffering from cuts. The confusion over exemptions will create a whole new gamut of issues unintended.”

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Brown pleases gun advocates and foes

As with many other bills Gov. Jerry Brown handled this session, he seemed to split the baby Sunday when deciding on bills dealing with how, where and when firearms can be carried in California, and by whom.

As I reported here earlier today, Brown signed AB 144, banning the “open carry” of unloaded handguns in public places – a bill supported by gun-control groups and law enforcement by opposed by gun-rights advocates. But he also signed SB 610 to streamline, speed and cheapen the process to seek a permit to carry a concealed handgun, something gun-rights advocates supported.

Brown also signed a bill letting the state Justice Department use an existing fee to fund its program tracking and seizing firearms from people who aren’t legally allowed to have them, and a bill requiring the state to preserve buyer information on rifles and shotguns sold or transferred in the state, just as it already does for handguns – both opposed by gun-rights advocates. But he pleased those same advocates by vetoing a bill on handgun ammunition sales, saying it’s something the courts should work out first.

AB 144, by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, makes it a misdemeanor to openly carry an unloaded handgun in any public place or street. Violations are punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Law enforcement personnel are exempt as are security guards, hunters and others carrying unloaded weapons under certain conditions.

“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,” said Responsible Citizens of California President Adnan Shahab of Fremont, adding his group will work with others to challenge the new law in court. “Since no problem has ever existed that needs to be addressed or fixed, there was no reason for AB 144 in the first place.”

But California Police Chiefs Association President David Maggard Jr. said today that open carry was “a threat to the safety of the communities we police and the safety of our officers. The Governor’s leadership in signing this legislation will help assure that felons and gang members cannot openly carry an unloaded gun with impunity, all the while carrying the ammunitions for the weapon on their person, because with open carry, officers were prohibited from conducting any further investigation to determine if the individual is legally in possession of the weapon.”

SB 610 by state Sen. Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, requires that a person need not pay for handgun training before the county sheriff has decided whether that person has good cause to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon. If the sheriff finds no good cause, the bill requires that he or she inform the person why. One way or the other, the sheriff must give notice within 90 days of the application or 30 days after receiving the applicant’s criminal background check from the Justice Department, whichever is later.

The bill was supported by the California Rifle and Pistol Association and the National Rifle Association.

Lots more, after the jump…
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