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September 28, 2012, Sacramento Bee

(go to above link to read dozens of comments)

Jerry Brown signs bill banning open display of unloaded rifles

Gun-toting demonstrators will not be able to openly display their unloaded rifles in California cities under legislation signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The governor vetoed a separate gun-related measure, however, that would have barred peace officers from selling to the public potentially unsafe handguns that are not available at stores.

Two Assembly Democrats, Anthony Portantino of La Canada Flintridge and Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, carried the ban on open display of unloaded rifles, Assembly Bill 1527.

The measure is a companion to legislation signed into law last year banning open display of handguns.

Both measures target a movement in which some gun-owning Californians have openly carried unloaded firearms as evidence of their constitutional right to bear arms and as a protest against government gun-control laws.

Proponents of a crackdown say that openly carrying a firearm creates alarm among bystanders and sparks emergency calls to police officers, who arrive at the scene not knowing if the weapon is loaded. Responses can be dangerous to the gun owner and to passers-by, supporters say.

Most Republican legislators opposed the "open carry" prohibitions as an attack on the right to protest peacefully and as a slap at the constitutional right to own a gun.

Violations of AB 1527 are a misdemeanor, punishable by a six-month jail term or $1,000 fine.

AB 1527 does not apply to unincorporated areas, private businesses, private property, or to the carrying of an unloaded rifle in a vehicle's rack.

The bill lists nearly three dozen other exceptions, including open carry of a rifle by a retire peace officer or in a licensed gun show, for target shooting, or by someone engaged in manufacturing, wholesaling, repairing or selling firearms.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, carried the firearm-sales legislation that was vetoed by Brown, Assembly Bill 2460.

Dickinson's bill was designed to further restrict the distribution of firearms that are not certified for sale by the state Department of Justice, such as weapons that do not have a chamber load indicator of that fail a firing or drop-safety test.

Under current law, such weapons can be bought in California by military or law enforcement personnel, including those in local police agencies, the U.S. Marshal's Office, California Highway Patrol and theDepartment of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

After obtaining the unsafe weapons, officers can use a loophole in current law to sell the firearms through California gun dealers to individuals who could not buy them off store shelves, according to Dickinson.

Gun dealers, in such "private party transfers," are required to check that the purchaser is eligible to buy a firearm in California - but not that the weapon involved is on a state roster of weapons eligible for sale to the public, according to Dickinson.

AB 2460 would not have barred peace officers from buying such weapons, but it would have permitted resale only to other officers.

Because private citizens who buy such weapons from other states can sell them in California through private party transfers, Brown opposed AB 2460's singling out of peace officers and military personnel.

"This bill takes from law enforcement officers the right to an activity that remains legally available to every private citizen," Brown's veto message said. "I don't believe this is justified."

Editor's Note: This story has been updated from an earlier version to correct Roger Dickinson's party to Democratic. Updated at 6:52 p.m. Sept. 28, 2012.




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