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Taking aim at California’s "open carry" handgun policy

I am moving forward with legislation to address the issue of openly carrying handguns in public.

People should be free from the fear and the potential for violence firearms represent. A parent pushing a stroller shouldn’t have to determine whether the motives of a person carrying a handgun are dangerous or not or whether the gun is loaded or not.

The average person isn’t able to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

While current state law prohibits carrying any loaded or concealed firearm in public, it does not address carrying an unloaded firearm openly. This gap in California law has been a platform for gun-rights advocates seeking to push for acceptance of carrying loaded weapons.

This movement is commonly called "open carry."

In my district, the open carry movement stirred up controversy when a group of around 60 armed supporters marched along a boardwalk at a crowded beach. People were understandably concerned.The police were called and the situation became frightening for the families simply enjoying a day at the beach.

Law enforcement expressed concerns that these displays will tie-up resources by forcing them to respond to calls from concerned citizens and to determine whether guns are unloaded.

These displays of firearms can create potentially dangerous situations. If peace officers respond to a call about a person with a gun, and the armed person then behaves in a way that is perceived as threatening, the officers may be forced to respond in a way that proves deadly.

I believe that responsible gun ownership has a place in our communities, including hunting, sportsmanship and an individual’s right to protect their home. But guns are an intimidating and potentially dangerous presence in public. There is an imbalance of power that can be frightening for people just spending time with their families.

Public display of firearms should be left to trained law enforcement.

The legislation will have its first hearing later this spring.