On January first, California’s AB 144 kicks in. As the new year begins, the Golden State’s city, county and or state police may arrest anyone openly carrying a handgun. Unless the citizen in questions is a police officer (duh). Otherwise, a California citizen who wishes to exercise his or her Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms must carry concealed. Oh, and they must have a permit to carry—a document whose provision depends entirely on the whims of their local constabulary. Does this mean California’s Open Carry movement is doomed? That’s a loaded question . . .

Some say the end of open carry in California is a good thing, not a bad thing. Now that the “gun nuts” (a.k.a. “extremists”) have to put away their pistols, the state is more likely to get with the program re: concealed carry laws. It will be easier for gun rights advocates to argue that citizens living in Governor Moonbeam’s jurisdiction should have the same access to handguns for self-defense as, say, the majority of Americans. What left-leaning hoplophobes can’t see won’t hurt them (psychologically or electorally).

I doubt it. Keep in mind that the recently enacted law against open carry prohibits the public display of unloaded guns. (Openly carried loaded guns were already illegal.) In effect, the California legislature banned the idea of guns. That’s a bit silly. By the same token, openly carrying an unloaded handgun is a bit silly, too. Sure, an experienced operator can load their weapon quickly, but it’s a bit like downing a Viagra at a Glory Hole. Only the stakes are a lot higher.

Contra Costa Times columnist David Allen’s snarky coverage of a local town meeting highlights the ridiculousness—and ridicule—created by California’s twilighting [empty] open carry law:

An open-carry advocate said members of her group have run into trouble by carrying visible firearms into local businesses.

“We have been harassed by police, treated like common criminals,” Madison Jones told council members.

Jones, a blond, smartly dressed woman who was not packing heat at that moment, said 20 people wearing holstered handguns ate in a backroom at Vince’s Spaghetti last month.

That is, until “a swarm” of Ontario police burst in and told the group to take their weapons back to their cars or leave. They left.

Jones said she and her group carry weapons to “defend ourselves” and exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

“You mentioned `defending’ yourself. Are your guns loaded?” Councilman Jim Bowman asked.

When Jones said no, Bowman said: “So defending yourself isn’t an issue.”

Obviously not (/sarcasm). Bowman’s glib dismissal of his voters’ desire to defend their lives and the lives of their loved ones and the lives of their community members is par for the course in California. If you need further evidence (i.e. if you want to get your blood pressure up), check scribe Allen’s humorous take on the constitutional showdown at Vince’s Spaghetti:

Mayor Paul Leon tried to inject a note of levity regarding the restaurant choice and the Old West-style holsters.

“That’s the problem,” Leon said. “We don’t like spaghetti westerns.”

Jones and her two friends in the audience weren’t amused, causing Leon to assure them the matter would be looked into.

He could have carried the analogy further. Imagine if, during an open-carry meal, a Vince’s server trips and spills a plate of spaghetti on a male customer. The man rises in shock and staggers into the dining room, white shirt-front stained red, and gasps accusingly, “He got me.” That could be bad for business.

It’s beyond unfortunate that the U.S. Supreme Court’s McDonald decision didn’t affirm Americans’ right to bear—as in carry—arms. American gun rights may be ascendent, but some of this country’s most populous states remain vehemently anti-gun. Decades of legal, political and cultural struggle lay ahead.

Meanwhile, Californians can still openly carry unloaded long guns. Will the state’s open carry advocates start bringing unloaded shotguns and rifles to restaurants—just to make a point? Count on it. Is that a good idea? You tell me.

35 Responses to California Open Carry’s Catch-22—And Beyond!

  1. I live in a de facto no-issue CCW jurisdiction. Millions in California do. A petition has just been certified for circulation that, if on the ballot and if passed, would change California to a “Shall Issue” state. That would be ideal.

    Until then, I’m glad the OC crowd is out there pushing the matter. Will toting long guns raise hackles? You bet. Better than meekly apologizing for exercising an enumerated, God-given Right and disappearing within the mélange of pretend security on offer by the bureaucratized urban police.

    Though I did not and would not OC (go discover who the first casualty was at Russia’s Beslan school terror event), I’m glad these fine people are out there. I bet there’ll be more stories of false reports of “active shooters” as twee Californians raise the alarm.

    Some societies are too stupid to survive.

    • EJECT! EJECT! EJECT! Make your escape plan NOW, before the California legislature passes a law prohibiting anyone from moving out of the PRCa. (I can put you in touch with a friend in NE California who knows all of the 2-wheel dirt tracks leading into Nevada. A small fee will be involved.)

      Is it true that the PRCa has now established “exit checks” for people driving out of the state, where they collect $2000 from anyone trying to leave? (Except PRCa politicians smuggling their campaign funds out of the state.)

      • That is an absolutely positively retarded statement and question!!! They have already decided that (a long time ago) unconstitutional to charge to pass state to state even for a small fee… i believe it was something like “if they can charge you a dollar, then they can charge you a thousand” or something like that. Have some “common sense”.

  2. Citizens residing in the PRK will not be able to carry a handgun in a National Park. The new fed law follows state law. If your state allows carrying a handgun you’re good to go. If not, you’re unarmed.

  3. I certainly hope the petition for conceal carry gets on the ballot and passes. That is an expensive uphill battle.

    The other avenue is the federal courts. Last time Richards v Pietro) at least part of the decision to deny conceal carry rights was cause open carry (unloaded) was available, for self-defence.

  4. That was also the case in state court, in Pertua v San Diego. I just read the order, and the dismissal of the right to bear arms claim was based on the fact that a California resident could carry unloaded and load the pistol in the face of a threat. Now even that isn’t a possibility anymore and residents of the effectively “no-issue” counties have no right to bear arms.

    The way I could see it playing out is eventually a court decision forces the choice between allowing all law abiding citizens to carry one way or another, open or concealed, and California will have to choose. If that does come to pass, I think in the end, they will choose concealed.

  5. Why would you need to defend yourself in California, it’s not like there are millions of bad people running around the state. They have excellent police protection just about anywhere and the sun is always shining. It’s quite the Utopia.
    If you can’t get a decent deal on house movers just sell what you can to lighten the U-Hall truck a bit.

  6. It’s beyond unfortunate that the U.S. Supreme Court’s McDonald decision didn’t affirm Americans’ right to bear—as in carry—arms.

    The McDonald Court certainly did affirm the right to carry arms. Any other representation is a complete misread of the opinion. I think you are referring to the Court’s pronouncement that 2A “is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” That statement is obviously true on it’s face. Does 2A protect the right of a lunatic to carry a disguised flamethrower to the floor of the Senate for the purpose of wiping out everyone there? I’m thinking not.

    Since both Heller and McDonald related to arms in the home, the Court restricted it’s holding to carrying arms in the home. I agree with the Court limiting it’s holding to the actual case before it. That’s called “judicial restraint,” and it’s something never practiced by the Warren Court. If a different carry case comes before the Roberts Court, it will rule on the issues posed by that case, and only those issues. That’s a good thing.

    My concern is that the Court is pretty much done with 2A cases, and that we won’t see another for a long time. As a non-activist Court, the Roberts Court would rather that these issues be handled by the legislative and political processs, even if it takes a long time. This Court wants to set the stage, not cast the actors and write the script.

    I would like the Court to rule on more 2A cases, since I think that the Court would side with “us.” But given the nature of this Court which recognizes its limited role in government, I believe that the Roberts Court will choose not to interfere and to let things evolve on their own. Since nobody elected the justices, that’s actually a good thing, too.

  7. “Sure, an experienced operator can load their weapon quickly, but it’s a bit like downing a Viagra at a Glory Hole.”

    lol

  8. “If HR 822 is passed the California State Legislature will have no choice but to consider repealing concealed carry entirely to maintain control of who is armed in our state.”

    -Rep. Dan Lundgren, California during the HR 822 debate.

    That quote stands as a window into the viewpoint of politicans in California. Said politicians, who are elected by a hoplophobe majority, consider the entire U.S. Constitution to be some irrelevant document with as much bearing on California laws as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    The Right to Bear Arms via legal carry is de-facto controlled by the State Government on a ‘case by case’ basis. UOC told the powers that be in no uncertain terms that they didn’t have the right to do that, and it scared them and those who elected said politicians.

    Thus, the express desire to ban the practice;because the California voting block majority doesn’t want to exercise their protected rights, and the Government is all to ready to oblige the voting block.

    • I think this is by far the most likely outcome of this debacle. I just can’t see the state becoming shall issue statewide. Instead they will ban carry for everyone, including those who are fortunate enough to reside in more relaxed counties. Once again L.A. and the Bay Area will dictate their wishes upon the state as a whole.

      • That, combined with AB144, would almost certainly fail constitutional muster, leading to California having to choose between access to concealed carry or open carry. I think at that point the likely choice would be concealed carry.

        • They do not care about Constitutional Muster. You may as well quote the Hammurabic Code for all the good it will do. Neither document has the force of law according to the California Legislature.Sure, the SAF/NRA would sue their living daylights out, but court cases take time.Ten or so years later the ban might get repealed after the California government has run out of continuances and legal financing, but in the meantime the state population will remain disarmed.

        • I know that, but the point is that they will get sued and they will lose and eventually they will be forced to make the choice.

          On this issue, California is like the Segregationist South was back in the 60s. Deeply wrong, but steadfastly refusing to budge. They’ll be dragged into compliance with the Constitution eventually though, even if it’s not soon enough. Civil rights shouldn’t have to wait, but unfortunately they often do.

      • I completely understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, and I hope you can get out soon. I hate the legal jeopardy that people face just for daring to protect themselves.

  9. These fools in COMMIEFORNIA have a total disregard for federal law and allow potheads to set up illegal store fronts. They won’t ever allow gun owners to exercise their rights, but that won’t matter because if the smog doesn’t kill these morons then the next big earthquake will dump this silly state into the ocean.

  10. Caution: Irrelevant, ‘CSB’ type comment follows:

    I recently walked into a bar in San Francisco (Zeitgeist, for those of you from there), and, unarmed and mildly inebriated, pulled my out of state pistol permit out instead of my drivers license when the butch bouncer-lady asked for ID. The pistol permit is the same size as a regular license, has my name, picture and date of birth on it, is government-issued photo ID, shouldn’t be a problem, right? Ha! She gives me a shocked and horrified look and says, “I won’t accept this, you can’t come in here.”

    I realize my mistake and pull out my out of state drivers license, which passes muster with her. I walk into the back garden area, and count no fewer than four different people smoking marijuana. It was an ultimate ‘California’ moment, that’s for sure.

  11. Robert, You say because carrying loaded guns openly is already illegal, what they’ve done is criminalized the “idea” of guns.

    That’s a good example of what a good spin doctor you are. You and your friends love to point out how much you practice and how quickly you can slap a magazine into a handgun and begin “protecting yourselves.” Yet, you call carrying an unloaded gun on your right hip and a full magazine on your left hip merely the “idea” of a gun.

    My contention all along has been that the “unloaded” requirement of California carry is bullshit because in about two seconds that gun is loaded.

    The same will hold true for long guns if the fanatics begin demonstrating with them.

    Another thing I’ve said all along is these extremists do your movement more harm than good.

  12. The US Supreme Court established Open Carry as the constitutionally protected manner of carry. Concealed carry proponents, particularly those who are also opponents of Open Carry, may not like it but that was the High Court’s decision.

    The California Supreme Court has also upheld restrictions on concealed carry for over one hundred years. Since 1924, the California Supreme Court has relied on a case which, like the Heller decision, quoted Nunn v Georgia on which manner of carry is constitutional – Open Carry.

    http://CaliforniaRightToCarry.org

  13. With one hundred and sixteen (116) distinct exemptions it would behoove law enforcement to make sure they know the law(AB 144) before they try and take action against any law abiding open carry advocate.
    It is not up to us to prove we are innocent, it is up to them to prove we are not. If not, each and every false arrest could lead into a Federal Civil Rights violation.
    We will be working with our local law enforcement to ensure that they are placed on notice of the actual provisions of AB 144 so that they cannot claim a lack of knowledge of the law as an excuse for false arrests, unlawful seizures, or even injuries or deaths.
    It is our hope that all law enforcement will be willing to work along side us in this.

    • For a civil rights lawsuit to be successful, one has to first be acquitted of the criminal charges and few folks have the money to defend themselves in criminal court let alone appeal their conviction all the way to the California and US Supreme Courts.

      The exemptions to AB 144 may be numerous but they are also very narrowly drawn.

      I tried for over a year to get the various so called Open Carry groups like Contra Costa Open Carry to bring a Federal lawsuit to overturn California’s 1967 ban on Loaded Open Carry. Instead, they joined forces with the CalGuns Foundation which seeks to ban Open Carry.

      There is only one lawsuit seeking to restore Loaded Open Carry to California, mine.

      Since these other “Open Carry” groups are unwilling to put up, they should shut-up.

      http://CaliforniaRightToCarry.org

  14. Huh? I dont believe that “…Calguns Foundation seeks to ban open carry.”

    From what I read it appears they are doing a very good job of informing gun owners, and following a smart strategic course to reform CCW policies, state-wide. The forums DO, of course, include people with a wide variety of opinions.

    I don’t speak for them, but what I read is sympathetic to open carry, but there are a number of older wiser heads who caution that in-your-face open carry, especially of black rifles in public places, may not be the smartest PR move within a gun-fearing population.

    If your purpose is to fight for the sake of fighting – then bad mouthing other gun rights organizations is one way to do so. If your purpose is to win the fight, then it makes sense to be strategic, and hire good help.

    I recommend CA readers spend some time with the info on the
    wiki: http://wiki.calgunsfoundation.org/Main_Page#Handguns

    and browse thru the threads in the legal forums and decide for yourself.

  15. Ah Charles. You troll everywhere.

    I have no problem with open carry. I think unloaded open carry is and was strategically stupid. I also am a realist enough to hold the position that we don’t have 5 votes on the Supreme Court for “unlicensed loaded open carry is the only true right to bear arms.” Scalia and Kennedy are going to let states set the manner of loaded carry as long as the law abiding really can carry in a mode ready for self defense.

    If SCOTUS had 5 votes for loaded open carry then Williams or Masciandaro would have been granted…

    -Gene

    (chariman, CGF)

    • One big problem with these so-called Second Amendment groups like CalGuns, the NRA and SAF is they can’t even get their facts straight.

      Neither Williams nor Masciandaro were Open Carry cases. Williams had a loaded handgun in a bag which he had hid in some bushes, Masciandaro was sleeping in an automobile with a knife concealed between the car seats and a loaded handgun in the truck in what might have been construed as a “sensitive” place.

      As hard as Alan Gura tried to get the US Supreme Court to say that permits are required to exercise one’s Second Amendment right, he failed.

      Unlike Gene Hoffman’s failed attempt to obtain shall-issue concealed carry permits here in California, permits are not at issue in my lawsuit. Open Carry permits do not exist in either the jurisdiction or venue of the court where my lawsuit was filed and the statute for which I am seeking an injunction against is not a licencing statute.

      I have California appellate court precedents going back to 1891 saying the same thing that the US Supreme Court did in Heller, states may ban concealed carry (except while one is travelling) and, since 1924, California courts have relied on a state Supreme Court decision quoting Nunn v State.

      For the benefit of the Open Carry opponents, Nunn v State was cited by the US Supreme Court in the paragraph where the High Court said that states may ban concealed carry and that Open Carry is the constitutionally protected manner of carry.

      The same paragraph cites State v Chandler – “Likewise, in State v. Chandler, 5 La. Ann. 489, 490 (1850), the Louisiana Supreme Court held that citizens had a right to carry arms openly: “This is the right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and which is calculated to incite men to a manly and noble defence of themselves, if necessary, and of their country, without any tendency to secret advantages and unmanly assassinations.””

      Unmanly men seeking secret advantages and unmanly assassinations pretty much sums up the chances the “concealed carry or no carry” crowd will have before the US Supreme Court.

      Given that California has just now banned handguns from being openly carried, there is no precedent the defendants can cite in my case whereas I have more than I can fit in the page limitations of my lawsuit.

      http://CaliforniaRightToCarry.org

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