California Open Carry Ban

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Now it looks like the version of the ban that passed in the Senate FAILED 39-29 when it had to go back to the Assembly (which the original version had already passed) because of changes in the Senate-approved version.

So now it appears that the proposed ban failed…I think.

Hat tip to Say Uncle.

Last night the California Senate passed AB1934. If signed into law by the Governator, it will outlaw the open carrying of guns in the state. An attempt to pass the bill failed on Monday, but they rallied and tried again late Tuesday, succeeding in the end.

Part of the problem (other than being in California) is that the existing open carry law only allows for unloaded guns. You can carry an unloaded gun, and you can carry ammunition for it. But the ammo cannot be in the gun. What happened, and what was a major reason that so many law enforcement agencies backed the ban, is that people were constantly calling in to report sightings of armed people. The callers couldn’t tell whether the gun was loaded or not, and, when they responded to the call, the police couldn’t tell whether the gun was loaded or not, so it was major pain in the ass.

Rather than recognize that it was the illegality of carrying a loaded gun that was making this an issue, the antis managed to convince enough people in the right places that a total ban on open carrying was the solution. And, in the end, they prevailed.

Never mind that the reason so many gun owners in California felt the need to open carry is the fact that concealed carry permit applications are very rarely approved. California is a MAY ISSUE state, and may issue also means may not issue. In many jurisdictions of may issue states, permit applications are simply rejected per standard operating procedures. Even when this isn’t the case, the burden of proof is often on the applicant to prove that he or she has a NEED to carry a concealed weapon. What constitutes proof of need is up to the local authorities and varies widely.

This is a hard blow for California gun owners and gun rights. Governor Schwarzenegger could do the right thing and veto the bill, but from what I gather that is very unlikely.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s the fact that the unloaded open carry compromise is now no longer a barrier to getting real open carry rights and shall issue concealed carry rights (where the burden of proof is on the state to deny the application, rather than on the applicant to prove a need) for citizens of the Golden State. The good is often the enemy of the perfect, and I think in this case the existence of the unloaded open carry allowance was enough to keep real legal recognition of rights at bay. Though the short term effects on legal gun owners are bad, maybe this will open the door for real reform in California.

However, Murdoc is not holding his breath. Or moving to California.


  1. However, Murdoc is not holding his breath. Or moving to California.

    As you implied, yet another reason to leave, or not move to, California.

    Which is a shame: for my money California is one of the most livable places in the country. I liked the heck out of San Diego, I love visiting San Francisco.

    If it weren’t for their pesky government I’d move there in a heartbeat.

  2. Wow. I wasn’t even aware of this bill. Where can this lefty vote *against* this bill via petition or something?

  3. Why do so many people get the load law wrong?

    It is perfectly lawful to open carry LOADED guns in California in unincorporated territories except where the county has banned all shooting. See People v. Knight’s explanation of Cal penal code section 12031.

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