July 21, 2:02 AM LA History ExaminerCharles Nichols
California Assembly Bill 1934, which would create an entirely new crime of openly carrying a handgun throughout most public places in the state has reportedly bypassed the California Senate Appropriations Committee and will be heard on the Senate floor if the author, Lori Saldana (D-78) can find a state senator to present the bill.
It is expected that it would be voted upon sometime between August 2nd and August 13th of this year. If the bill is passed by the Senate it would then return to the Assembly for concurrence on the changes to the bill that occurred in the Senate. If agreement cannot be reached, the bill is referred to a two house conference committee to resolve differences. Three members of the committee are from the Senate and three are from the Assembly. If a compromise is reached, the bill is returned to both houses for a vote.
Both houses of the California Legislature must pass the final version of the bill by August 31st. If both houses pass the bill, it would go to the governor where he would either veto the bill or allow it to become law. The governor has said that he does not comment on legislation which has not been passed by both houses. There is no way of predicting what the current governor will do in regards to AB1934.
Prior to the Heller and McDonald decisions, firearms must be carried unloaded. It is legal to carry ammunition with the firearm just so long as the ammunition is not in the "firing position" of the firearm. Police departments generally interpret this to mean having a loaded magazine inside of a semi-automatic or cartridges in the cylinder of a revolver. You can read how the California court defined loaded here. In short, it is legal to carry loaded magazines (or speed-loaders for revolvers) and have them at the ready should the need arise.
The requirement that firearms be unloaded dates back to July of 1967 when the California Legislature passed a law requiring that firearms be unloaded within city limits and certain prohibited areas of a county. In 1995, the state passed a law prohibiting guns within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school without the written permission of the school. A map showing the prohibited areas of Hermosa Beach can be found here and a related article here.
In light of the United States Supreme Court Heller and McDonald decisions it is curious that this bill is still alive given that its passage by the California Legislature would be in open defiance of the US Supreme Court. Although the government of Washington D.C., initially stated that they would defy the US Supreme Court when it issued its Heller decision they quickly changed their tune and instead wrote a new law claiming that it is in compliance with the US Supreme Court decision. The City of Chicago has similarly adopted a new ordinance allowing only a single functional firearm in a home after one has completed an onerous five and 1/2 month permit process. In other words, the cities are defying the court while at the same time claiming they are complying with the court. I don't think the US Supreme Court will be amused and we can expect the High Court to smack down both cities claims of compliance next year.
AB1934 goes far beyond the machinations of the City of Chicago and Washington D.C., it expressly makes the following found by the court to be a crime:
What do the words "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" from the 2nd Amendment mean to the US Supreme Court?
"...we find that they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation." - Scalia in Heller
What does it mean to "carry?"
"At the time of the founding, as now, to “bear” meant to “carry.” When used with “arms,” however, the term has a meaning that refers to carrying for a particular purpose — confrontation. In Muscarello v. United States, 524 U. S. 125 (1998), in the course of analyzing the meaning of “carries a firearm” in a federal criminal statute, JUSTICE GINSBURG wrote that “[s]urely a most familiar meaning is, as the Constitution’s Second Amendment . . . indicate[s]: ‘wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.’” Scalia in Heller
AB1934 seems to have overlooked the core of what the US Supreme Court said in the Heller and McDonald decisions:
"Self-defense is a basic right, recognized by many legal systems from ancient times to the present, and the Heller Court held that individual
self-defense is “the central component” of the Second Amendment right." - Alito in McDonald
Given that California does not recognize a right to carry a firearm concealed, openly carrying a firearm is the only legal means left of self-defense. If AB1934 passes, the California State Legislature would be making it a crime to carry a handgun for the purpose of self defense, in direct defiance of the High Court.
Obviously, the law will be as unconstitutional as a law reinstituting slavery or requiring blacks to sit at the back of a bus and drink only from "colored" water fountains. One would have thought that laws restricting fundamental constitutional rights were from a long bygone era, apparently not so in California.
Most police departments will no doubt enforce the new California law if it passes until a Federal court issues an injunction prohibiting its enforcement. In the interim, cities will have exposed themselves to multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuits they will lose. Los Angeles County alone has around eighty eight cities and a county police force, the Sheriff's department. All have pockets deep enough to entice lawyers throughout the country. Oh! Did you think you have to live in California to sue for a Federal civil rights violation? Au contraire. All a lawyer needs is for someone, somewhere to say he would like to openly carry his firearm in California but is prevented from doing so.
Fox 11 News camera operator Patricia Ballaz received $1.7 million dollars in a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles for being pushed to the ground by Los Angeles Police Department officers during the 2007 May Day melee. The US Supreme Court reiterated again this term that one does not have to be arrested (or mistreated by police) to sue for violations of ones civil rights. Am I making my point at all?
Do you think gun owners and their attorneys are going to be the least bit shy about suing cities, schools, counties and police for enforcing AB1934? Not to mention all of the other gun control laws California has enacted over the years?