With the backing of law enforcement organizations and in the wake of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) is proposing a statewide ban on openly carrying unloaded firearms in public places.
Unless such a law is passed, it would remain legal in California for gun owners to display unloaded weapons in coffee shops, on street corners and in other public places, and also carry on their person ammunition that could be loaded into those guns.
"Certainly, most folks would not want people walking down the grocery aisle or sitting in a public park displaying weapons. There's a proper place for firearms, and having a proliferation of them strapped to hips is something that belongs in a Western movie, not Main Street California," Portantino said in a statement.
The proposal is similar to one that was adopted by legislators in Sacramento last year but that did not reach the governor's desk before the legislative session adjourned.
While La Cañada Flintridge officials expressed reluctance to get involved firearm regulations, typically the purview of the state and federal governments, the Los Angeles City Council is considering adopting a similar ban as a local ordinance.
L.A. City Council members last week approved a resolution in support of a statewide ban and are expected to consider Friday adopting a citywide ban proposed by L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti.
Garcetti, who invoked the Giffords tragedy in proposing the ban, "believes this is just common-sense," said spokeswoman Julie Wong. "No one needs to be walking around the neighborhood with a gun on their belt. It scares people because they don't know whether the gun is loaded, and police officers find that it drains their resources as well. "
The California Police Chiefs Association and Peace Officers Research Association of California have voiced support for the ban, which could be discussed in the Assembly as early as Feb. 13.
Mayor Donald Voss said he was reluctant to take up discussion of a citywide ban because open displays of firearms just don't seem to occur here.
"I applaud Portantino's concern," said Voss, but, "our council likes to stick to its knitting, and our world is within the boundaries of La Cañada Flintridge."
Councilman Dave Spence also said he saw no reason to force the issue locally.
"It's a state-regulation issue. I've lived in La Cañada Flintridge since 1969, and I've never seen anybody walking around with a gun on their hip," he said.