Why California Assembly Bill 144 is a really bad idea.

DISCLAIMER: I do not open carry. I really have no interest in advertising my armed status to criminals, but that is my personal opinion. I have no problem with those who do choose to open carry.

On the last day of the 2011 legislative session California lawmakers voted to pass AB144, a ban on open carry of firearms in California.

The man chiefly responsible is Anthony J. Portantino D(ranged), from the 44th assembly district (this is in southern California).

In arguing for the passage of this bill (which he introduced), Mr. Portantino repeatedly stated that “You don’t need a handgun to get a cup of coffee.” This is all over youtube, and can be found quoted in several traditional media pieces on this bill.

But in every interview I’ve seen with him talking about this bill, he is extremely quick to state that Californian’s who want to carry guns should get a CCW permit. Now forget for a minute that California is a may issue state, and that in many places in California it is all but impossible to get a CCW permit (unless you know someone at the Sheriff’s department, or are willing to make a substantial donation to local law enforcement). CCW and open carry are two completely different animals.

Under current California law, anyone who may legally posses a handgun in California has the right to carry it in public places (with several exceptions), as long as the gun is unloaded (but hey, you can have ammo or magazines on you, so that should be ok, amirite?).

So we’re not even talking about loaded guns here, but I digress.

Open carry gives those who live in places in California where violent crime is rampant (and there are plenty of those) the ability to at least project to would be criminals that they are not an easy victim. It allows those who do not have the political clout or financial resources to get a CCW in places where they just are not issued (there are plenty of those too) the means to at least have a chance to defend themselves when set upon by violent criminals.

Mr. Portantino makes his argument that open carry in California needs to be banned based (as far as I can tell) on three things:

  • Police get called when people see someone who is not a security guard, a policeman, or a member of the military carrying a gun.
  • People in California have a right to not be scared because other people are carrying guns (gasp!).
  • You don’t need a gun to buy a cheeseburger or a cup of coffee.

Let’s talk about that reasoning here.

Police get called when people see someone who is not a security guard, a policeman, or a member of the military carrying a gun.

Basically what his argument here comes down to is that when someone in California gets scared because they see someone without a badge and a uniform carrying a gun, it endangers the public because police must respond as if the gun were loaded, and the carrier were about to go on a shooting spree, which is a waste of taxpayer money.

Well, I’ll stipulate that it is indeed a waste of taxpayer money for police to respond to reports of someone openly carrying a gun in a holster as if the person were an immanent threat to public safety.

Criminals do not open carry. They conceal their firearms. I don’t think that there has ever been a verified report of a criminal openly carrying a firearm in a holster (at least in the last 50-60+ years or so) who was not actively engaged in shooting at someone.

It’s really just that simple. So issue a memo to all police that they should not respond to calls of someone carrying a holstered firearm that is not otherwise breaking the law.

People in California have a right to not be scared (because other people are carrying guns).

Portantino has repeatedly said this, yet there is no law in California that states this. I cannot find a single reference in either the State or US Constitution to a guarantee that anyone has a right not to be scared, of any thing, let alone of someone else possessing an inanimate object.

It doesn’t exist. You know why? Because it is utterly ridiculous to even suggest that it would be possible to create a situation where no one would be scared.

You don’t need a gun to buy a cheeseburger or a cup of coffee.

This one is my favorite. I know what my answer here is, but I’ll let you all decide after I tell you a short story.

About six months ago (or so, could be anywhere from 6-18 months ago, I’m bad with dates), a good friend of mine called me for some advice on how to handle a problem he was having with his daughter. Apparently her and her boyfriend had gone to the local Starbucks at 9:30pm (it was in the middle of the week too) for a cup of coffee, and had been robbed at gun point of their valuables, and were also relieved of his vehicle.

The two criminals were visually obviously criminals (“dressed like thugs with facial tattoos” was her description), and thankfully no one was hurt. The criminals were not open carrying their firearms.

Do you think these criminals would have chosen to rob them (or likely anyone at that location) had either my friend’s daughter or her boyfriend been openly carrying a handgun?

The mountains of data we have about criminals preferring unarmed victims says they would not.

But that’s not why I am writing about this. As the disclaimer at the top of the article states, I do not open carry. It’s a personal choice. The reason I am writing about this at all is due to Mr. Portantino stating several times (even on his official web site) that AB144 will close the “open carry loophole”. Freedoms are not loopholes. The Second Amendment of the US Constitution does not provide for defense of my home and property (something that Mr. Portantino mistakenly believes). The Second Amendment of the US Constitution quite clearly states “…to keep and bear arms…” (emphasis mine). So please, Mr. elected legislator, please quit referring to my Constitutionally enumerated RIGHTS as a “loophole”.

I hope this law is challenged in our courts, I hope said courts start applying Constitutional Law correctly (as codified in Heller as it applies to the Second Amendment), and I hope this law is struck down as unconstitutional. Who’s wasting the taxpayer’s money now?

So, apparently you do need a gun to get a cup of coffee in California. At least, if you want to keep your wallet and car so you can drive home afterwards.

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One Response to Why California Assembly Bill 144 is a really bad idea.

  1. Joe G. says:

    So I noticed a spike in visitors from reddit.com/r/guns (glad to have you all), and several people commented there (would have been more appropriate to leave those comments here, good thing I check my stats!) about the *ahem* emotional response at the end of the post. You guys are right, I should not have left that in. So I’ve edited the post to reflect that, thanks for the insight.

    And I am not inferring that you should shoot it out with a mugger. As the post states, we have mountains of data that clearly shows that criminals do not target armed victims, so simply having a firearm visible would likely have deterred the two geniuses I mentioned.

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