74-year-old San Jose man arrested for carrying firearm near school

By Lisa Fernandez

Posted:12/17/2009 05:38:44 PM PST
Updated:12/17/2009 05:38:45 PM PST

After his brothers watched a newscast about the national movement to carry guns in public, they told Sherman "Tony" Fontano he could do that himself. Two San Jose police officers also said it would be OK.

So this week, Fontano, 74, put his unloaded .357 Magnum into his waistband and took a walk with his girlfriend.

But he was soon surrounded by police who had their own guns drawn. Unfortunately, nobody had mentioned it is against the law in California to walk with a firearm near your neighborhood school.

"I just can't see what I did wrong,'' Fontano told the Mercury News on Thursday. "I'm not a member of anything. I'm not political. I just wish the cops would have told me not to carry it near a school. This was all a total mistake.''

Fontano was arrested Monday after he and his girlfriend took a shortcut through a field at Allen at Steinbeck School. A parent spotted the gun-toting retiree and called police.

Fontano finds himself caught up in a national controversy known as the "Open Carry Movement,'' whose supporters have been trying to convince the public that carrying a pistol in public is as normal as carrying a pen.

John Pierce, one of the co-founders of, said the law used to arrest Fontano is one of many arbitrary statutes that violate the constitutional right to bear arms.