Bring-your-gun-to-the-beach day in Hermosa Beach
More than a dozen people packing pistols on their hips strolled down the Hermosa Beach strand Saturday, picking up garbage and distributing fliers about the rights of gun owners.
The event was part of a burgeoning and controversial "open carry" movement nationwide promoting the right to carry guns in public. Although carrying a concealed weapon is illegal without a permit, California allows people to openly carry guns in many areas as long as they are unloaded, though they can keep ammunition with them.
Members of South Bay Open Carry, which organized the beach cleanup, said they hope such events will dispel misgivings about gun owners and make carrying a handgun in public more acceptable. Organizers said they turned the event into a cleanup to demonstrate that they are contributing to the community.
"Just because somebody is carrying a gun doesn't mean that they're a criminal," said Scott Brownlie, a 25-year-old firefighter who stood outside a coffee house with an unloaded Colt M-4 carbine slung across his back. "If a lot of people were allowed to carry more … there would be a lot less crime."
Most people walked by the group without a second glance. A police spokesman said the department received no complaints about the event.
Open Carry has drawn criticism from gun control groups that say police, not untrained gun owners, should be protecting the public.
Similar Open Carry gatherings have taken place in recent years in San Francisco and San Diego.
A bill by Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña (D-San Diego) would, with some exceptions, prohibit civilians from openly carrying handguns. The legislation, which was approved by the Assembly but still needs to pass the Senate, has won backing from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the California Police Chiefs Assn.
-- Jack Leonard in Hermosa Beach
Photo: Firefighter Scott Brownlie carries an unloaded Colt M-4 carbine in Hermosa Beach. Credit: Christina House / For The Times