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May 16th, 2011 by Terry Miller
ASSEMBLY PASSES PORTANTINO’S “OPEN CARRY” HANDGUN BILL
AB 144 to Ban Open Display of Firearms
Sacramento – Assemblymember Anthony Portantino’s legislation making it illegal to carry an unloaded gun in public was overwhelmingly approved today in the State Assembly adding to a growing chorus of public officials and law enforcement groups calling for a ban on guns in public.
“I am very pleased that my fellow legislators agree this is a sensible gun ban that should be law in California,” stated Assemblymember Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge). “I’ve worked closely with law enforcement personnel who are concerned that the open display of firearms in crowded public places creates some very real public safety issues. As I’ve said all along, our families deserve to feel safe in our parks and coffeshops; after all, you don’t need a gun to order a cup of coffee.”
AB 144 makes it a crime to openly carry an unloaded handgun in any public place or street. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. Law enforcement personnel are exempt as are hunters and others carrying unloaded weapons under specified licensed circumstances.
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. The dispute came to a head recently when gun enthusiasts took the light rail train into Pasadena wearing their guns and rallying near Portantino’s office before heading to dinner.
“Open Carry wastes law enforcement time and resources when they could be out catching bad guys. Instead, they are tied up dealing with frantic calls from the public about gun-toting men and women on Main Street, California. As law enforcement officials tell me, it’s not safe and someone is going to get hurt,” concluded Portantino.
AB 144 is supported by the California Police Chiefs Association and PORAC representing rank-and-file police officers. Law enforcement requested the ban after similar legislation was defeated at the end of the 2010 session. The Los Angeles City Council has voted to endorse AB 144 and is now considering a similar measure in the city of Los Angeles.
AB 144 was approved on a vote of 45 to 29. It now moves to the Senate for approval.
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