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AB 144 Will Ban the “Open Carry” of Unloaded Handguns

Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (AD44) joins police chiefs and rank and file police officers in calling on California to ban the open display of firearms. Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) has introduced legislation to outlaw the “open carry” of unloaded handguns in California

Portantino joins Police Chiefs and Rank and File Police Officers in calling on California to ban the open display of firearms

Sacramento – A sensible gun ban that should already be California law is being given a second chance. Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) has introduced legislation to outlaw the “open carry” of unloaded handguns in California. The prior bill made it through the legislature last year, but failed to get to the Governor’s desk when the legislative session adjourned at midnight without completing its business.

“We have laws to license weapons in California and this bill will improve them. It keeps guns out of public places by individuals who are not properly and legally licensed to carry weapons,” explained Assemblymember Portantino. “Certainly, most folks would not want people walking down the grocery isle or sitting in a public park displaying weapons. There’s a proper place for firearms and having a proliferation of them strapped to hips is something that belongs in a Western movie, not Main Street, California.”

Because of the miscue at the end of the 2010 session, AB 1934 by former Assemblymember Lori Saldaña did not make it to the Governor’s desk. This oversight means that Californians may walk into a grocery store carrying an unloaded weapon on one hip and the bullets on the other. After seeing a rise in these types of needless public displays, law enforcement officials sought the ban on this open display of firearms. Portantino took up the cause and has worked with law enforcement to re-introduce the “open carry” ban.

San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer, President of the California Police Chiefs Association explains why her group is endorsing Portantino’s AB 144. “The California Police Chiefs Association is strongly in support of Assembly Member Portantino’s open-carry bill. The open display of firearms in crowded public places creates very real public pistol safety issues – both for the public and for police officers. This is a good-sense public safety bill and we are committed to securing its passage.”

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Assemblyman Anthony Portantino

Assemblymember Anthony Portantino

Portantino’s bill, AB 144, which was introduced Thursday, makes 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.

“PORAC members are committed to keeping our communities safe, and this practice wastes a huge amount of law enforcement officers’ time. These people work in groups and they are trained on how to confront peace officers. It is scary for our neighborhoods and businesses,” said Lt. Ron Cottingham, President of the Peace Officers Research Association of California, PORAC. “It is not safe, and I fear a horrible accident could happen if something is not done about it. That is why PORAC supports AB 144.”

California is one of many states that allow so-called “open carry” which gives gun owners the right to display weapons, though in California those guns must be unloaded. Carrying loaded firearms in public is already against the law in California. The dispute came to a head last year when gun enthusiasts began showing up in coffee shops and public beaches with unloaded guns strapped to their hips.

“Average Californians understand police officers displaying loaded weapons, they understand hunters, and they even understand those folks who are legally licensed to a carry a weapon. What they don’t want is a proliferation of public displays of weapons for no purpose. It’s imperative that the public safety of our families and our neighbors’ families is protected. It only takes a few seconds to load and fire. This bill is a sensible public safety protection that will make such an occurrence less likely in our neighborhoods,” concluded Portantino.