California bill banning 'open carry' of rifles goes to Gov. Jerry Brown

The Sacramento BeeAugust 30, 2012 

Open display of unloaded rifles in public would be banned in California under legislation sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 1527 cleared the Legislature when the Assembly concurred in amendments, 43-30.

The measure extends an existing "open carry" law that applies to handguns. AB 1527 would not bar possession in unincorporated areas or at a private business, or on private property. Unloaded rifles also could be carried in a vehicle's rack.

Some gun-owning Californians have encouraged open display of firearms in recent years as evidence of their constitutional right to bear arms and as a protest against government gun-control laws.

AB 1527 was proposed by Assemblymen Anthony Portantino of La Cañada Flintridge and Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, both Democrats.

Proponents paint the measure as a benefit to public safety, saying the open carry of a firearm creates alarm among bystanders and sparks emergency calls to police officers, who arrive at the scene not knowing if the gun is loaded. Responses can be dangerous to the gun owner or to passers-by, supporters say.

"Frankly, there is no place for an unloaded shotgun on Main Street, California," Portantino said.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, argued against hampering law-abiding Californians who want to peacefully exercise their constitutional right to assemble and to protest by carrying an unloaded rifle in public.

"Do not criminalize more Americans because they believe in the Second Amendment," Donnelly said.

AB 1527 contains nearly three dozen exceptions, including open carry of a rifle by a retired peace officer, in a licensed gun show, for target shooting, or by someone engaged in manufacturing, wholesaling, repairing or selling firearms.

The bill would make violations a misdemeanor, punishable by a six-month jail term or $1,000 fine.

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