California moves to strike last open carry allowance in state law

A proposal that further extends California’s ban on the open carry of an unloaded long arm passed the Legislature and is working its way to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

The measure, AB 7, would expand the state’s open carry prohibition to cover shotguns and rifles carried in unincorporated areas. The bill’s co-author, Sen. Anthony Portantino, D- La Cañada, in 2011 and 2012 worked on legislation that banned the open carry of handguns in California and sees the measure headed to Brown as the next logical step.

“Shotguns and rifles should not be carried on our residential streets by untrained and unidentified members of the public,” Portantino said. “This can cause confusion and endanger public safety for citizens and law enforcement as well.”

Portantino’s bill makes it is a misdemeanor to openly carry a long gun in a public place where the discharge of a firearm is prohibited in an unincorporated area of a county. Public lands open for hunting and target shooting would not be affected.

While the state banned the open carry of loaded firearms through the Mulford Act following armed meetings of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s, and in recent years restricted the carry of handguns in general and long arms in incorporated areas, unloaded rifles and shotguns can still be carried in rural areas.

“AB 7 would be the nail in the coffin, effectively eliminating the ability to openly bear arms anywhere in the state of California,” Craig DeLuz, with the Firearms Policy Coalition, told lawmakers during the bill’s legislative process, going on to argue that exercising Second Amendment rights in the state, where in some counties it is nearly impossible to obtain a concealed carry permit, is increasingly hard.

“So, if one does not have the ability to bear arms in the State of California, concealed or openly, how exactly is one to exercise their Constitutionally enumerated right to bear arms in this state?” he said.

Though two different lawsuits have been filed against the existing open carry ban, they have thus far been unsuccessful in the courts.

Portantino’s expansion passed the Senate 24-14 and the Assembly 43-32 and is being engrossed and enrolled in preparation to send to Gov. Brown.