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CA Assembly votes to ban carrying guns openly

June 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
People who support the state's open carry gun law are feeling threatened. California's assembly voted to ban gun owners from carrying their guns in public. Right now, its legal, but only if the weapon is unloaded. It is an old right that some believe is a new threat.

The Assembly voted in favor of the bill, which would make it a misdemeanor to carry an unloaded gun in public. Gun opponents also want violators to pay stiff fines as well, but groups like the NRA, hope the bill will die in the Senate.

Jon Schwartz is a Starbucks regular and just about every time he stops for coffee, his unloaded side arm is by his side.

"This is not a threat to the populous," says Schwartz.

Schwartz is a member of Bay Area Open Carry. He says he carries his gun, for protection. California law allows gun owners to carry their weapons in public, as long as they're not loaded. Assembly Bill 1934 is trying to change that; members voted to make it illegal to carry a gun in public.

"Bringing a gun into the public, makes the public less safe, we don't know the backgrounds of the people carrying the guns," says Karen Arntzen from the Brady Campaign.

The Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence backs the bill. They're sure, instances like these, where open carry members met in places like Starbucks in Livermore and Buck Horn Grill in Walnut Creek gave the bill's authors ammunition and got public sentiment on their side.

"What's the point of having a gun on your hip, if you're not going to do something with it? I don't believe a person wears a gun on their hip like a piece of jewelry," says Leonard Hurwitt from San Mateo.

People have reported seeing guns in public. ABC7's cameras were rolling when Livermore police responded to a call that a man with a gun was standing outside a cafe. It was an open carry member ABC7 was interviewing.

"It would scare me to see somebody wearing a gun from their waist," says Joan Berger from Hillsborough.

"Some people have a knee-jerk reaction to this method of open carry and I empathize with those people, however, they need to understand that their perceived fear does not trump everyone else's rights," says Schwartz.

The bill heads to the Senate next week and both sides are already calling state senators to get their support. The bill would also need the governor's signature before it can become a law.


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