Time to Repeal California’s Open-Carry Gun Law

Written by Ralph E. Stone. Posted in Culture, Opinion, Politics

Published on June 05, 2010 with 20 Comments

"Starbucks would quickly change its policy if a group of black folks from the 'hood' or 'Arab-looking' folks in traditional Middle Eastern garb exercised their rights by carrying handguns with ammunition in their belts."

By Ralph E. Stone

June 5, 2010

This week the Assembly narrowly passed AB1934, which would repeal repeal California’s open-carry gun law. California law now allows adults who are not prohibited by law to visibly carry an unloaded gun in public places, excluding school zones, government buildings, state and national parks and secured areas like airports. The law permits a gun owner to carry ammunition on the gunowner’s belt belying the distinction between a loaded and unloaded gun. Police are permitted only to ensure the weapon is not loaded. They cannot check the gun’s serial number, ask for the carrier’s identification or detain him or her. It is also still legal to carry a concealed weapon although gun advocates claim such permits are and should be difficult to obtain. AB1934 is a logical extension of the Mulford Act, which already prohibits the carrying of a loaded weapon on one’s person or in a vehicle in a public place or on any public street.

Earlier this year, Bay Area gun advocates staged frequent open-carry “meet-ups” at Starbucks coffee shops and other restaurants. People showed up at pre-determined places wearing their unloaded sidearms and hung out, drinking coffee or talking. Many members of the public, alarmed at the sight of people openly carrying a handgun, called the police. When the police arrived, they were only allowed to verify that the handguns were unloaded and, if it was, there were no charges. The Starbucks coffee chain announced that it will continue letting customers openly carry unloaded handguns in its coffee shops. I bet Starbucks would quickly change its policy if a group of black folks from the “hood” or “Arab-looking” folks in traditional Middle Eastern garb exercised their rights by carrying handguns with ammunition in their belts entered a Starbucks coffee shop and ordered coffee.

Such gatherings are advocated by the Unloaded Open Carry movement in California Not surprisingly, many in the public find the practice of “packing heat” in places like Starbucks intimidating and potentially dangerous to their families and communities.

Why this American men’s obsession with guns? The United States is a violent nation with the highest rate of firearm-related deaths among all industrialized nations. Over 70-million Americans own guns and 48 percent of all households have at least one gun. There are 200-million firearms of all types in the United States. In homes with guns, a member of the household is almost three times as likely to be the victim of a homicide compared to gun-free homes. On the average, if someone gets shot and killed, four out of five times it will be with a handgun. A 2010 Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 47 percent oppose so-called “open carry” laws that would allow citizens to openly wear their guns in public and 41 percent favor such laws. In states where it is legal to openly carry a gun, a 2010 CBS News/New York Times Poll found that 74 percent believe that private businesses like stores and restaurants should be able to prohibit customers from openly carrying guns in their establishments.

I carried a 45 caliber standard issue handgun while serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. I have never owned gun or intend to ever own a handgun and I do not feel any safer knowing that 70-million other Americans own them.

Gun control advocates argue that they are just exercising their Constitutional rights and an unexercised right to openly carry a gun is a lost right. After all, “it is people, not guns, that kill people.” (Actually, it is people with guns that kill the most people.) Regrettably, in the 2008 case of District of Columbia vs. Heller, the Supreme Court did find that Americans have a Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.” However, this does not mean that federal and state governments cannot pass and enforce gun control laws. In fact, most gun control laws have been found to be valid after the Supreme Court decision.

AB1934 will be a tough sell in the Senate. The Brady Campaign and many law enforcement agencies are vigorously supporting the ban while gun advocates like the Unloaded Open Carry group and other pro-gun groups are against it. Lobbying by both sides will be hot and heavy. If AB1934 should become law, it will most likely be challenged in court. Currently, the Supreme Court is debating McDonald v. Chicago to determine whether Chicago’s 28-year ban on handguns violates Second Amendment rights. If the Chicago ban is struck down, then AB1934, if signed into law, might be struck down too.

I urge the Senate to pass AB1934.

Ralph E. Stone

I was born in Massachusetts; graduated from Middlebury College and Suffolk Law School; served as an officer in the Vietnam war; retired from the Federal Trade Commission (consumer and antitrust law); travel extensively with my wife Judi; and since retirement involved in domestic violence prevention and consumer issues.

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Comments for Time to Repeal California’s Open-Carry Gun Law are now closed.

  1. Dear sir, it seems that you are capable of some rationale, however if one truly analyzes and therein uses government own statistics, a simple consideration can prove via facts, your position actually puts most citizens in more danger to gun related violence. I beleive you sir are viewing gun violence from the perspective guns kill people, instead of the actual true persective of people kill people. Your negative perspective is detrimental to good law abiding citzens, proof I personally have owned guns since 15 years of age, and since then have aquired almost a dozen various firearms for different purposes, I have never misused guns nor do I plan to ever misuse them, to the contrary I have enjoyed them immensely, I am now and have always been a good intentioned law abiding citizen and in good standing in my community. Facts: guns are completely safe, Fact: Guns in the wrong hands are not!! Remedy: 1. Punish the crimminals, A. Prosecute fully by way of all current laws on the books all gun violence, B. Crimminals don’t observe or follow the laws, C. Ban all guns from crimminals (felons) or those who are determined to be legally mentally inbalanced. (sounds like common sense to me), this results in law abiding citizens to be available to potentially assist the authorities (or lack thereof due to time constraints) save my life or yours, 2. A. Do not punish law abiding citizens for the crimes of crimminals or the mentally imbalanced, B. Enact a law that incrimanates those who intentionally use deceptive measures to sway those who are incapable of thinking for themselves about a given subject like gun control.
    I respect life, all life, because when I grew up I incorperated god, family, boy scouts, education, and success to get me to where I am now (completely comfortable with myself).

    Summation: I am not my brothers keeper, so what right do I or any other person or legislator have to legislate away given inaliable and constitutional right to self protection?, well conscietious individuals would come up with the only correct answer=none would.
    Thanks for reading, I would also be interested in your thoughts ( I am already informed on the factfree liberal talking points ) but I’m open minded on your personal viewpoint.

  2. I’m pulling out my over & under 12 gauge – will carry it in California

  3. The California State legislator forgot the following:

    C.D. Michel, a civil rights attorney for the National Rifle Association, said the group has a lawsuit challenging the concealed carry licensing system in San Diego. He said the federal judge in the case ruled the system wasn’t a violation of the Second Amendment because residents still had the option of unloaded open carry.

    “This strengthens our lawsuit because that option has been eliminated,” he said.

  4. What really amuses me here is that the very same individuals who applaud Obama care or other “Federal” mandates and who dismiss the states rights of other states now cite their own states laws that are in obvious conflict with federal laws. They do this to further their own goals and values.


  5. No i don’t think i am missing your point. if you had your way you’d ban all guns in this country. That’s what this is all about.

    Ralph, AB 144 applies to handguns will be found unconstitutional. Californa does not dicate national policy.


  6. Howie, you’re missing my point. The 2nd amendment clearly addresses the right of the citizenry to be able to defend itself against all enemies, foreign and domestic, a provision I do not take issue with as it relates to “being necessary to the security of a free state.”

    What I take issue with is the evisceration of “a well-regulated militia” from the 2nd Amendment which has effectively resulted in hundreds of thousands of gun-related homicides in the US.

  7. Now this conversation is largely moot. Regrettably, the Supreme Court has found a Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” and California AB 144, which repeals California’s open carry gun law, is now law. Unfortunately, AB 144 applies to handguns, not rifles and shotguns.

  8. Basically, between the Heller and Mcdonald cases Luke, I am suprised that California passed AB 1934. I can’t forsee where the only place a person may have his gun loaded is in his/her home. That would defeat the entire intent of the right to bear arms which was to allow citizenry the ability to defend against a fascist dictitorial government. Or did you miss that too Luke???

  9. Luke, You again COMPLETELY miss the point. When the 2nd amendment was written all men within the stated ages were in the militia. Ergo, everyone had arms. You have been using the argument that only a militia was necessary to have arms. Since at the time of the writing all eligible men had to be in a militia all had to have arms. There fore we all have arms.

    My age? I’m 64 and a combat veteran. I bore arms in defense of my country at its request. And now that i am older and at home I can’t bear arms to protect myself????

    Tell me something Luke, just what do you think is going to be achieved by banning hand guns???? You actually think that gun violence will end? You’re crazy, all that will happen then is what is currently happening now but more of it. In the sanctuary cities like San Francisco the illegal aliens involved in drug trafficing plus the home grown thugs will be killing innocents who are unable to protect themselves. But hell Luke, you’ll feel safer won’t you?? LOL

  10. Wrong Howie, today’s individual gun owners are not required to “enroll in the militia,” hence your citation, while interesting, does not support your argument.

    By the way, which militia are you enrolled in and how old are you? I assume you’ll give up your guns when you reach 46?

  11. For you historians who try to cite the 2nd amendment and in particular the portion described by Luke Thomas above “The important words are “well regulated militia,” militia commonly interpreted refers to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense.

    Individuals carrying guns for self-protection is not “a military force.” Neither is individual gun ownership well-regulated or “necessary to the security of a free state.”

    I suggest he reads the damn law in place at the time the constitution was written. That being the 1792 Militia law in which it state ”
    I. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, ”

    That means every one should have a gun as we are ALL in the militia!!

  12. To Major:

    Ah stereotypes! If I bothered to research I could probably come up with some not-so-flattering ones for yourself, but I think we’re on the same side so I wont. I’ll admit I enjoy the beach and the good weather more than most other people in the country, but I and many other Californians are not ignorant.

    It is the ignorant many that live in cesspools like L.A. and Oakland, living in fear of people who would do them harm, too lazy to bother taking their security into their own hands, that threaten to turn this state into the “totalitarian government state” that you mention. We are trying to make a comeback in this state, to preserve the land we were born to and enlighten the people, but it’s a hard battle. Unloaded open carry is a strong promoter of the 2A. Often older and middle-aged men and women cower in fear, however young men and on occasion women inquire how and why. Often times out of envy, sometimes out of intelligent inquiry. A lifetime of gun familiarity and ownership can and does start with just those questions, so please don’t be so quick to condemn us to a police state, this method works. But we will still need support from outside of the state just as much as from inside.

    In confidence.

  13. Ah Ralph,

    The good old days! Back when the Commander-in-Chief actually led the troops. When a guy up the woods somewhere decided not to pay taxes on his whiskey George Washington raised a small army, literally got on his white horse and went up and arrested and hanged the guy.

    I’ve always wondered what happened to his whiskey.


  14. Luke: Before the District of Columbia vs. Heller Supreme Court case, many scholars, as did I, believed your interpretation of the Second Amendment was the correct one. At the time of the Constitutional Convention, the colonies did not have a standing army. Instead, in a time of emergency, the townsfolk were alerted and assembled to meet the emergency. Individuals kept there guns in their homes so they could quickly assemble already armed. Also, it was a more dangerous world back then. The U.S. still had a wild frontier with little law and order, wild animals, and some unfriendly Indian tribes. I suppose one could argue that carrying a gun was a needed item for defense back then. However, the Constitution is supposed to be a living, breathing document and what was appropriate in frontier days is not necessarily appropriate in a modern, civilized society.

    Regrettably, the Supreme Court disagreed. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. The Court based its holding on the text of the Second Amendment, as well as applicable language in state constitutions adopted soon after the Second Amendment. Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court. Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer filed dissenting opinions, each joined by the other as well as Justices David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Stevens argued that the Second Amendment only protects the rights of individuals to bear arms as part of a well-regulated state militia, not for other purposes even if they are lawful. Justice Breyer agreed with Stevens’ argument but also stated that even if possession were to be allowed for other reasons, any law regulating the use of firearms would have to be “unreasonable or inappropriate” to violate the Second Amendment. In Breyer’s view, the D.C. laws at issue in this case were both reasonable and appropriate.

  15. I normally read anti self defense, anti constitution pieces for entertainment, and laugh at the absurd logic behind them. I support the FACT that the second amendment is an inalienable right to self defense and preservation of state. SCOTUS has confirmed that belief. I normally speak out on an article such as this with offence and insult; however, when it comes to the state of California, I am compelled to believe that what this article suggests is the right thing for Californians.

    Californians obviously do not possess the fortitude or valor that the rest of the nation has. They would rather have someone assigned to protect them instead of taking the responsibility for themselves.
    Californians continuously place political candidates on the FAR left into power in their courts, and as their state and federal representatives. In other words, you are getting what you ask for . . . a totalitarian government state; a government which speaks at or to the people instead of FOR the people. So, in addition to lack of fortitude and valor, I would have to throw in a lack of intelligence. While Californians sit back and unintermittedly smoke their weed, attend their “raves”, and surf and sun themselves, their government is imposing a totalitarian state right under their noses.

    You may believe that a society can exist, and be better off without guns but that belief is pure FANTASY. Californians want to pride themselves on breaking away from the rest of the country and placing itself above the rest of us because of their “superior civility”. They want to be the “trend setter”. You can look down your plastic noses and fake boobs at gun owners all you want California; the rest of the country is laughing at you, because in the end you will be less FREE! Californians do not have what it takes to be self preserving, for they are obviously too full of fear, and apathy.

  16. Question,

    Q: How are Israeli pirates different from Somali pirates?

    A: Somali pirates never killed anyone.


  17. How about this?

    We just revise an oldie sign that used to be in the windows of redneck establishments …

    No shirt

    No shoes

    No gun

    No service


  18. Let’s talk about that “constitutional right to bear arms,” defined in the second amendment as:

    “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    My reading of the second clause, “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” is contingent on the first clause, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State.”

    The important words are “well regulated militia,” militia commonly interpreted refers to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense.

    Individuals carrying guns for self-protection is not “a military force.” Neither is individual gun ownership well-regulated or “necessary to the security of a free state.”

    My read, and good people may differ, is that a well regulated militia “being necessary to the security of a free State” means that guns should be regulated but made available to the citizens should a need arise to protect the state.

    A well regulated militia, then, is not what we have today, and let’s face a little reality: Guns do kill people, lots of them, more per capita in the US then any other country.

    Imagine if those guns were locked up and controlled by a well-regulated militia. Do you think the gun related homicide rate in the US would be so high?

  19. I consider my self a tad of left of right but I am very conservative when it comes to a constitutional right to bare arms.

  20. Please sign the pro-open carry petition for California at http://www.petitiononline.com/CalOC/petition.html – this bill must be stopped!