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Assembly passes ban on openly carrying handguns

The California Assembly voted Tuesday to ban openly carrying handguns in public. Lawmakers approved the bill as some gun rights activists celebrate their constitutional right to bear firearms by walking the streets with pistols strapped to their hips, like gunslingers from the Wild West. Should the bill become law, that practice would become a crime.

Supporters of the bill, including author Lori Saldana (D-San Diego), argued that the practice intimidates the unarmed and wastes police resources because officers frequently have to respond to worried callers saying there's a person with a gun outside Starbucks, or a similarly crowded public space.  The ban is supported by the California Police Chiefs Assn.

It is currently legal to openly carry a gun in public in California as long as it's not loaded.  Some gun enthusiasts have been known to carry ammunition in a separate pocket, supporters of the bill said.

Opponents argued that there have been no serious incidents associated with openly carrying firearms in California, and called the bill a solution in search of a problem. The bill, AB 1934, now goes to the Senate.

-- Jack Dolan in Sacramento

 
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