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New poll shows voters feel unsafe with more guns in public places

The "Open Carry" Assembly Bill, which I authored, would prohibit openly carrying handguns in public places.

The California State Assembly Appropriations Committee approved this legislation, in order to limit openly carrying firearms in public places. New results from a national survey were also released, and they indicate the public’s serious discomfort with the practice.

A nationwide survey of 600 voters conducted by the Lake Research Partners found that 50 percent of respondents felt less safe with people not connected with law enforcement carrying guns in public, while only 38 percent felt safer.

These survey results are not surprising. I believe this reflects what law enforcement and I have been saying all along, people are seriously concerned about the risk that openly carrying firearms in public poses to themselves and to their families.

According to the survey, opposition to carrying guns openly in public was especially strong among women, with 59 percent of all women in opposition. The majority of both Democratic and Republican women oppose the practice.

My measure has gained support by a number of law enforcement groups, including the California Police Chiefs Association, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.

The problem with open carry is that it is largely unregulated. Right now, just about anybody can openly carry a gun in public under current state law - no permit or training required. Not until you load your handgun in public would you be in violation of the law. And State law also allows for carrying ammunition along with the unloaded weapon, something that many open carriers admit to doing.

I have seen a gun go from unloaded to loaded in less than 2 seconds and that significantly increases the risk to the public. Responsible gun ownership has a place in our communities, including for hunting and sportsmanship and in the home, but sensible regulation is necessary to protect the public. There are appropriate times and places for carrying a firearm, and my bill makes accommodations for those, but unless you are law enforcement, people really don’t feel safe having them in public.

Saldaña's bill is headed towards the Assembly Floor.