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Bay Area Gun Law Activists, Police React to Passage of Open Carry Law

Bill bans Californians from openly carrying unloaded handguns.

Hours after Gov. Jerry Brown announced he had signed a bill to prohibit Californians from openly carrying unloaded handguns, law enforcement officials and Bay Area activists on both sides of the issue were divided about the newly passed legislation.

AB 144 bans the open carrying of handguns in public places or in vehicles, and makes the act a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison or a maximum $1,000 fine.

Law enforcement officials throughout the state praised the governor's move today, saying the new law would promote public safety.

"We view the open carrying of unloaded handguns as a threat to the safety of the communities we police and the safety of our officers," said David L. Maggard, Jr., president of the California Police Chiefs Association. "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."

Livermore police Officer David Blake said that while he respects constitutional gun rights, the open carrying of guns has had a negative impact on the community, prompting numerous concerned calls from citizens.

"We can't prejudge what the intentions are -- we treat all guns as if they are loaded," Blake said.

Bay Area gun control advocates also commended the governor's decision on the open carry bill today.

"We are elated that the governor had the courage to stand up to the NRA and stand with law enforcement and many victims of gun violence to pass AB 144," said Karen Arntzen, who works with the Contra Costa County chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Over the past two years, Arntzen has helped organize protests at Bay Area restaurants where open carry proponent groups have hosted armed meetings.

Those groups include statewide chapters of Responsible Citizens of California, an organization that advocates the right to open carry.

Yih-Chau Chang, the organization's press secretary, said the group was disappointed with the governor's approval of AB 144, but that "this certainly is not going to stop the open carry of handguns."

He said open carry proponents statewide are already planning to challenge the law in court.

Chang added that many such advocates, including himself, carry exposed, unloaded handguns on a daily basis and will likely choose to openly carry unloaded long guns in lieu of handguns once the law takes effect in January.

--Bay City News

Charles February 15, 2012 at 06:23 AM
cont. What's this all about? It's a movement. If you view open carry with that in mind, it makes sense. Visit www.opencarry.org for more info, or just drop into any firearms forum, and you'll find people talking about it. Check out the Virginia Citizen's Defense League to see how an active state group not only protects a right, but expands it. As I have been following this movement for quite some time, I wasn't sure how to present it in context, and last weekend I figured it out. (Stay with me here, and don't wig out, okay?) I had the TV on, mostly for company, and stumbled on a show about the sexual revolution of the 1960s. (See, I said you had to cut me some slack, here.) What struck me were the scenes of the gay activists in the streets, and the comments they made. Some were "in your face," some were just quietly assertive, and some were saying, basically, don't make waves. Flash back to the fight for women's rights, or the fight for civil rights for African Americans, and you have the same factions. That's what we are seeing in the Open Carry Movement (OCM). Some are "out there," pushing hard. They want the confrontation with authorities so they can make the point that good, honest people carry guns, that it's legal, and that they should be left alone. They stage open carry picnics in parks, and invite the media. Ohioans for Concealed Carry is a leader in this, holding very successful open carry walks.
Charles February 15, 2012 at 06:24 AM
cont. Some people just engage in open carry quietly, answering questions from friends or people who ask, but not looking for any opportunity to make a point. Naturally, some gun owners argue that open carry is a bad idea, that it's tactically unsound, that it frightens the public, and that we should all just get concealed carry permits and quietly go about our business. Rights, like muscles, must be exercised. To not use open carry is to lose that right. If the police are restricting and arresting people for engaging in a legal act, we have a serious problem. You and I may differ in our opinions as to whether carrying a gun openly is smart from a tactical sense, but that's a different issue. OCM, as a "movement," now has achieved the position that concealed carry had 20 years ago, except that the battle then was to get carry laws passed. Many states do not prohibit open carry, so the movement is to get more people to do it, and to change the laws so good people can open carry in more states. Each person has her or his level of comfort with activism. In the coming weeks, we'll have guests on Gun Talk radio talking about open carry -- why do it, what's involved, what's the law, what holsters (think security) would be good choices, etc. One line of thinking is that the entire idea of asking permission to carry a gun -- through getting a permit for concealed carry -- is contrary to the Second Amendment being a basic right.
Charles February 15, 2012 at 06:27 AM
cont. We don't apply for a permit to engage in free speech or practice religion. The very act, say some, of applying for a carry permit validates the idea that the government should give you permission to bear arms. Why get involved in the OCM? Why carry openly? Comfort? Making a point? Just to exercise a right, perhaps? All valid reasons, in my opinion. Maybe it's just one person's way to show others that good people carry guns. It might not be for everyone, but it's a movement that's growing.
Charles February 16, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Trigger The Vote http://www.triggerthevote.org/landing2/
Charles May 05, 2012 at 08:57 PM
The Armed Citizen Alliance is the only national organization created for the sole purpose of assisting ordinary American citizens in preparing themselves for the responsibilities of armed personal and home defense. It is supported by a broad-based nationwide coalition of companies and organizations from the shooting sports and firearms community. The ACA offers an avenue to learning how to react with confidence should you face your worst nightmare. http://www.armedcitizenalliance.com/

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