California outlaws open carry of unloaded handguns

Gov. Jerry Brown has outlawed openly carrying unloaded handguns despite heavy resistance from gun enthusiasts.

Though it was already illegal to openly carry loaded handguns, AB 144 expands California’s firearm regulations by nixing people from openly carrying an unloaded handgun outside of a person’s home or vehicle.

AB 144 was approved on October 13, 2011 and became law Jan. 1. Violators could face up to one year in prison and/or a fine of $1,000.

The bill does exempt hunting and shooting events and does not apply to those who are given permits to carry concealed weapons by local law enforcement.

Bejan Hejazi, a CSUN senior majoring in psychology, is grateful to have this new law in effect.

“I’m all for it,” Hejazi said. “I think it’s going to make California a lot safer.”

Not many people are in favor of this new law, including Charles Nichols, advocate for gun rights.

Last year, he filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to overturn restrictions on limiting his right to carry a loaded firearm openly in public. Since 1967, California has prohibited citizens from carrying loaded handguns in public.

Nichols is complaining that such state laws violate the Second Amendment, which gives people the right to bear arms.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, the author of AB 144, said the law in no way infringes on gun owners’ rights in a press release.

According to Wendy Gordon, media relations for Portantino’s office, Portantino was backed by law enforcement for this bill to become law.

“We’re not taking anybody’s right to hunt away, or anybody’s right to be a security guard, or to protect your home.” Portantino told the californiawatch.org. “But you don’t need a gun to buy a cheeseburger or to buy a cup of coffee.

Scott Vanscoy, Captain of Police Operations at CSUN, said there will not be much of a change here on campus since it was already a felony to carry guns.

“It comes down to safety,” Vanscoy said. “When people are usually targeting someone they tend to not be trained properly when using a gun and could hurt someone else.”

Open carry of unloaded long guns, such as shotguns and rifles, is still legal within California according to californiaopencarry.org.

“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,” said Dallas Stout, president of the California chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, in a statement.

The Brady Campaign, which sponsored the legislation, is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence and said that California joins Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas as the only states to ban openly carrying handguns.

The National Riffle Association hoped AB 144 would not see the light of day. Since it has, they are trying other avenues for people who believe strongly in the Second Amendment, said a representative of the NRA, who wished to remain anonymous.

The representative said since the law is in effect they can start going to court regarding the conceal carry law and try to make it easier for citizens to get a license.

“Our next goal will be to extend this new law to long barreled guns, such as shotguns and rifles,” said Gordon.