- (Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
California Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday that his state will become the fifth state to prohibit the open carry of handguns in a public venue, even if they are unloaded.
The recently signed bill, AB144, was introduced by California Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D) and will make it a misdemeanor to carry a handgun in public or in a vehicle. Those convicted will face up to one year in prison as well as a $1,000 fine. The law is expected to go into effect early January. Police officials and hunters are exempt from the new law.
The reason for the ban, according to Portantino, is that many people get frightened when they see a handgun in public, not knowing if it is loaded or not.
"I want to thank Gov. 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 in a released statement Monday morning.
“[Police officials] are tied up dealing with calls from the public about gun-toting men and women in the coffee shop,” Portantino told The Associated Press last month. “As law enforcement officials tell me, it’s not safe and someone is going to get hurt.” Main street California, he continued, is not the wild west anymore and therefore carrying guns is not necessary.
Second amendment advocates are fired up claiming the bill targets law-abiding citizens. Gun Owners of California issued a statement, saying that the passage of this bill felt like the governor was “shanking [second amendment advocates] in the stomach with an ice pick.”
State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R) told AP that Brown has no respect for the constitution.
“There are risks to living in a free state, and for the governor to take away and chisel away at the Second Amendment right when he claimed to respect it, it just kind of shows his true colors.”
“Portantino’s reasoning for banning the carry of unloaded handguns just because some people are frightened is just a gross overreaction. That’s like saying that some people are afraid of people who dress gothic and so we need to ban that. Some people are afraid so we violate the constitution? I don’t think so,” Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California told The Christian Post.
“The people who are afraid have the right to leave the presence of an individual carrying an unloaded gun.”
“The facts are on our side,” Paredes continued. “There has never been a crime committed by an individual who open carries in the state of California. Never.”
“We’ll see the governor in court.”
Both Paredes and C.D. Michel, civil rights representative for the NRA, say that this new law essentially establishes a ban on handguns in the state.
If an individual wants to carry a concealed weapon outside of their house in California, they must go through the legal process to obtain a license. Otherwise in California, prior to Monday, that individual was allowed to openly carry the weapon as long as it was unloaded.
Now that open carry is abolished, each individual must obtain a license in order to conceal carry. This presents a problem because the “licensing system in California is corrupt. You can’t get one. The system is discretionary,” Michel told The Christian Post.
“If a citizen in other states applies for one in their state, they can get one. But not in California. Here it is at the discretion of the police chief or sheriff. Very few people are granted one.”
Michel says pro-second amendment advocates will continue to fight in court for their right to carry.
“It’s important to note that this law only bans the open, unloaded carry of handguns. Now, people will start to openly carry unloaded long guns, like riffles. If some people were afraid of handguns before, I wonder what they will think now.”