California is one of three states in the nation with the peculiar law that allows people to openly carry guns, but the weapons must be unloaded. Now one lawmaker wants to put a stop to it. Assemblywoman Lori Saldana has introduced a bill that would ban the open carry of all guns, whether they are loaded or not.
"What I'm concerned about is people who have no training can carry a gun for no other purpose than to make a public statement," said Saldana.
California's open carry law has been on the books since the 1960s. But law enforcement officials say only recently have people started to carry guns to show their support for the 2nd Amendment. The movement has been highlighted by people bringing their guns to Starbucks stores. The chain upset gun control activists by refusing to ban guns from its stores.
The California Police Chiefs Association is sponsoring the bill.
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"Officers are taught from Day 1 in the academy that guns are a threat," said Emeryville Police Chief Ken James. "This open carry places officers in a position between a rock and a hard spot."
Gun owners, however, say there is no threat because the weapons are not loaded.
"If you can't carry loaded, then it's really just a waste of time to ban it because you're asking law-abiding people to disarm themselves from an object that does no harm to anyone because it's unloaded," said Rachel Parsons, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association. "In a time when there's limited taxpayer funds, passing these additional laws that mean absolutely nothing is a waste of taxpayer dollars."
People are allowed to carry ammunition, but it just can't be in the gun.
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35 states allow people to openly carry guns without a license. Only California, North Dakota and Utah require that the weapon be unloaded. If California passes this bill, it would join Florida, Illinois, Texas and Washington, D.C. in completely banning open carry.