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California Legislature

L.A. County crime-inspired measure would ban openly carrying rifles in unincorporated areas of California

Two attendees pose with assault rifles at an NRA convention. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
Two attendees pose with assault rifles at an NRA convention. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Californians would be prohibited from openly carrying long guns in public, unincorporated areas of the state under a bill approved Wednesday by the Legislature and sent to the governor for consideration.

The measure, opposed by the National Rifle Assn., was requested by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to plug a loophole in state law that bans openly carrying handguns in areas outside cities.

“Shotguns and rifles should not be carried on our residential streets by untrained and unidentified members of the public,” said Sen. Anthony Portantino (D- La Cañada-Flintridge). “This can cause confusion and endanger public safety for citizens and law enforcement as well.”

In some cases, long guns have been brandished by people at political rallies.

The measure, which includes unloaded long guns, was introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Carson) with support from gun-control groups including the California chapters of the Brady Campaign, which wrote to lawmakers saying it is a natural follow-up after the state previously banned exposed handguns in incorporated or unincorporated areas in California and exposed long guns in cities.

The group cited high crime levels in areas of Los Angeles County involving long guns, including assault rifles. Each county's Board of Supervisors would designate which unincorporated areas would be subject to the ban.

The NRA argued that the measure was proposed as a result of “irrational gun phobia” and said it violates constitutional rights.

“It is obvious that AB 7 is not about reducing California’s firearm crime rate, but is simply another attempt to further strip the law-abiding citizens of the Golden State of their Constitutional right to self-defense,” the group said in a statement.

Republican lawmakers, including Assemblyman Devon Mathis of Visalia, also opposed the bill. Mathis said it can affect hunters in the state’s rural and unincorporated areas.

He said the bill was introduced based on “the idea that carrying a shotgun is going to scare people. People just need to get over it and grow up.”

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