The Central Coast’s representatives in the state Legislature both oppose a bill that would make it a misdemeanor to openly carry an unloaded handgun in public.
The bill, AB 144, passed both houses of the Legislature and is headed for the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature or veto.
But Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, both San Luis Obispo Republicans, say the bill infringes on gun owners’ rights established under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
That amendment reads: “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.”
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In an email to The Tribune, Achadjian wrote “As a strong supporter of our Second Amendment Rights, I believe that AB 144 unnecessarily restricts the ability of law-abiding Californians to carry an unloaded, unconcealed firearm.
“Additionally, existing law already prohibits those without a concealed weapons permit from carrying a loaded firearm and also prohibits the brandishing of a firearm, whether loaded or unloaded,” Achadjian wrote.
Blakeslee took a similar tack.
“We need a rational and coherent approach,” he wrote, “that defends both public safety and the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, by now restricting both concealed and open carry, California is moving toward a de facto ban on gun possession.”
According to a legislative analysis published on the state’s website, the bill’s supporters believe the absence of such a law has led to an increase in “problematic instances of guns carried in public, alarming unsuspecting individuals (and) causing issues for law enforcement.”
“Open carry creates a potentially dangerous situation,” according to the analyst’s summation of the bill’s supporters.
“In most cases when a person is openly carrying a firearm, law enforcement is called to the scene with few details other than one or more people are present at a location and are armed,” the analysis continues. “In these tense situations, the slightest wrong move by the gun carrier could be construed as threatening by the responding officer, who may feel compelled to respond in a manner that could be lethal. In this situation, the practice of ‘open carry’ creates an unsafe environment for all parties involved.”