Currently AB 144 is unstable and, as many of you recognize, unconstitutional. In a time of fiscal crisis in our state, we should not pass laws that divert funds away from cities, schools, and local services. AB 144 reduces prosecution of more serious offenses by jamming up the courts unnecessarily with individuals that carry for self-defense. In essence, this bill has recreated the wheel by reenacting laws that have been shot down by the courts.
AB 144 claims to be a "fix" to a loophole yet it ends up not being a fix at all but instead furthering loosening of the screws that were already rusty and falling apart.
Currently, firearms laws are so complex that many have prosecution difficulties. Some District Attorneys in California have announced an intentional reduction of prosecutions or to drop charges based on constitutional concerns brought forth by the June McDonald ruling. Even our current Governor, Jerry Brown, voiced the need to incorporate the 2nd amendment into California when he filed his Amicus brief under the McDonald ruling (link to Amicus brief --> HERE ).
There are so many loopholes to AB 144 that most open carriers will become exempted from the open carry law. Part of the 29 exemptions will allow for open carry on all private property, including all meeting locations of open carry, and the new law will cause lots of confusion for law enforcement. Portantino's office calls this the "A-B exemption"
Law Enforcement have been fully trained in open carry over the past few years. If training took 3 years for the current open carry laws, then AB 144 will take much longer to train law enforcement on exemptions and mapping of all locations. Law enforcement dispatch will be called frequently by those believing open carry is banned under AB 144, however it may not be for the person walking around if certain situations, locations or exemptions apply. With AB 144, there will be no way to identify whether the individual is exempt without arrest and courts since there are no standards set forth to identify exempted individuals.
Open Carry, in it's current form, is plagued with mapping of locations and prohibited areas which is meant to discourage unpermitted carry. Adding a ban on open carry in the way it is written will require all law enforcement to be provided with parcel maps identifying public from private property. Currently, most shopping centers, restaurants, and adjacent parking areas not within public buildings, are considered private property. To travel unrestricted would require persons open carrying to live in counties such as Napa County where open carry laws do not apply.
If this open carry laws is not really a ban, then what does it do?
- It will restrict carry on public sidewalks and streets in some counties. Exempted counties will be 31 counties including Napa County
- Will restrict individual groups who have school zones exemptions (PC626.9) to remain only near and around schools while on public streets.
- Will confuse and create problems for hunters by creating issues related to where the restricted paths are. (Current exemption is not strong enough to prevent prosecution. Dirt paths are considered roads which are difficult to identify)
- Will create special training requirements for law enforcement
- Will cause County Supervisors to divert funding from scarce resources such as schools, police departments and cities.
- AB 144 will reduce the number of more serious offenses prosecuted and allow more serious offenders free due to violations of speedy trials.
- It will create added burdens to already overburdened courts and public defender offices currently working on reduced hours.
- It will create a gamut of false arrests for those who may be exempt in some way. These false arrests will include gun confiscations that require use of the Department of Justice resources to return firearms once the participant is cleared.
- Adds to felony convictions through creation of alternate felonies (99-00 AB 491 Scott) and loaded firearm felonies when accidentally stumbling across prohibited areas. [Loaded open carry is not prohibited in unincorporated territory (People vs Knight) (except where discharge of a firearm is prohibited by law - any discharge prohibition triggers the loaded prohibition in state law) PC12031]
Currently, Open Carry generates few calls to police. Of the calls that are made, dispatch of officers is rare. Most daily open carriers may have their firearm inspected 1-2 times a year, due to normal run ins. This year, one of the event organizers in Northern California has reported no law enforcement encounters at scheduled open carry events since last year. During the blood/ toy drive in November 2010, law enforcement was seen driving through the shopping center, but only stopped to tell protesters to stop blocking doorways and a second time to tell protesters to stop impeding traffic (protesters were Brady Campaign members)
One of the most publicized events was set up by Nor Cal Open Carry in Walnut Creek, California. Approximately 20-30 open carriers, 30-40 spectators, and media came to downtown Walnut Creek. Police incident reports, pulled for 2 hours before and 2 hours after the event, revealed no calls to law enforcement. Last year, 4 months worth of event police logs were pulled via public records and submitted to the capitol. The event logs revealed a single call which was an advisory to police call, not a citizen call (logs submitted under 2010 AB 1934)
Fixing the open carry laws to address identified issues is far different than what is written in AB 144, since this far there have been no identified issues to address. If open carry created any community concerns, these would be used and documented by police and anti-gun organizations such as Legal Community Against Violence or the Brady Groups.
Defense of life is essential to the freedoms we enjoy. AB 144 at Assembly Public Safety was argued to be unconstitutional, yet passed though with expectations of revisions to resolve these concerns. So far, constitutional issues remain since carry of firearms is a right guaranteed to the people not to be infringed on by the state. The 2nd Amendment is a right of the people, for the people.
If government wishes for the people to be involved, then they must treat the people with respect and dignity instead of going after those who go out of their way to abide by the law, such as the open carriers. Government should instead target those who target law abiding citizens for personal or political gains. These acts of terrorism, and attacks against law abiding must be stopped.