Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña aims to ban Open Carry

California Assemblymember, Democrat Lori Saldaña of San Diego (AD-76), has introduced language that is aimed to outlaw “open carry” of unloaded weapons on public property.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the measure, which was first introduced last month but is not expected to have its first hearing until April, is meant to address the growing “open carry” movement, in which some gun owners have taken to meeting in coffee shops, parks, and restaurants while wearing holstered weapons to raise awareness about gun rights.

“People should be free from the fear and the potential for violence firearms represent,” said Democratic Assembly Member Lori Saldaña of San Diego, in a statement. “These displays of firearms can create potentially dangerous situations.”

In what appears to be a verbatim printing of a Saldana press release published by the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, Saldaña writes:

I am moving forward with legislation to address the issue of openly carrying handguns in public.

People should be free from the fear and the potential for violence firearms represent. A parent pushing a stroller shouldn’t have to determine whether the motives of a person carrying a handgun are dangerous or not or whether the gun is loaded or not.

The average person isn’t able to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

While current state law prohibits carrying any loaded or concealed firearm in public, it does not address carrying an unloaded firearm openly. This gap in California law has been a platform for gun-rights advocates seeking to push for acceptance of carrying loaded weapons.

This movement is commonly called “open carry.”

In my district, the open carry movement stirred up controversy when a group of around 60 armed supporters marched along a boardwalk at a crowded beach. People were understandably concerned.The police were called and the situation became frightening for the families simply enjoying a day at the beach.

Law enforcement expressed concerns that these displays will tie-up resources by forcing them to respond to calls from concerned citizens and to determine whether guns are unloaded.

These displays of firearms can create potentially dangerous situations. If peace officers respond to a call about a person with a gun, and the armed person then behaves in a way that is perceived as threatening, the officers may be forced to respond in a way that proves deadly.

I believe that responsible gun ownership has a place in our communities, including hunting, sportsmanship and an individual’s right to protect their home. But guns are an intimidating and potentially dangerous presence in public. There is an imbalance of power that can be frightening for people just spending time with their families.

Public display of firearms should be left to trained law enforcement.

In response, Bay Area Open Carry advocates Walter Stanley and David LaTour believe, with many others that such anti-self-defense law would make it easier for criminals to prey upon law-abiding citizens. The real question is, does the California Legislature, with all its feel-good limosine liberalsim really have the brass balls to go up against the NRA, California sporting community (No Open Carry on BLM land qua Public Property), Second Amendment rights advocates, and an increasingly perturbed public wishing the California Legislature would reform its budget instead of legislating against the First (cussing) and Second Amendment (Open Carry)

Mainsail, a contributor to online Open Carry sites recently published Open Carry Argument

My primary goal when I’m out and about (besides whatever I went out and about to do) is to go about peaceably and not be the victim of a violent crime. To that end I carry a firearm whenever I go out as well as follow all the other standard safety practices like maintaining situational awareness, staying out of high crime areas, and avoiding confrontation. I also have a larger overall goal of making it through my life without shooting anyone. Simply put, I don’t want to be responsible, legally or morally, for another’s death. Those two goals might appear at first blush to be mutually exclusive, and with concealed carry it would be a difficult set of goals to realize.

Carrying a concealed firearm presents to a criminal that I am unarmed. Every study I’ve ever read, not most but every study, says that criminals will avoid an armed person or home when selecting a victim. That only makes sense, right? Robbers, rapists, or carjackers might be dumb and opportunistic, but they have the same instinctual sense of self preservation we all have. Hyenas don’t attack lions to steal the gazelle the lions have just killed. It’s all about risk management; are the potential gains (a tasty gazelle dinner) worth the potential pain and damage the lion’s teeth will cause, and does the hyena really need to test the lion to figure out the answer? No, the hyena can see the lion’s teeth and knows to stay well clear.

Deterrent Value:
When I’m carrying concealed I feel like my ‘teeth’ are hidden, and thus of no real deterrent value. If I appear unarmed then I am unarmed in the eyes of the robber, I appear as easy a target as almost anyone else out on the street. My probability of being a victim of a crime, violent or otherwise, is completely unchanged by the fact that I have hidden beneath my shirt the means to defend myself. My goal, however, is not to be a victim in the first place, remember? I don’t want to be a victim that fought back successfully and triumphed; I prefer to not be victimized at all. Concealed carry is good; it throws a wrench in the works for criminals who might see the teeming masses as a smorgasbord of financial gain. This deterrent effect is, nonetheless, indirect. At some point the thug will weigh the risks vs. the gains; is his current desperation for money/drugs/booze/gold grille greater than the gamble that one of those people might be carrying a gun? If he decides to play the odds, which helped along with surprise tip the scale in his favor, he will attack. Will his attack allow enough time for me to draw my concealed firearm to affect a defense? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

Remember, I don’t want to be a victim and I don’t want to shoot anyone. So how do I realize both goals; or how do I make them inclusive? I can do that through open carry. By making it clear and obvious that I am armed, that I have teeth, I tip the risk scale to the point that the criminal’s gains are far outweighed by the risk. There is no ambiguity when the thug is doing his risk assessment, there’s something right there in plain sight that can quickly and painfully change or terminate his life. You may not think his life has much value, but as I mentioned before, he has the same sense of self preservation as any other living creature and to him it’s every bit as valuable as yours is to you. It would be foolish to ignore this indisputable fact when you develop your overall tactical strategy.

First One To Be Shot:
There are some who criticize open carry and claim it will make you more of a target or ‘the first one shot’ when a robber walks into the 7-11, despite the absolute lack of credible evidence that this has ever happened. If the robber walks in and sees that you’re armed, his whole plan has encountered an unexpected variable. In bank robberies where he might expect to see an armed guard he will have already factored that possibility into his plan, but only for the armed guard, not for open or concealed carry citizens. No robber robs a bank without at least a rudimentary plan. Nevertheless, being present for a bank robbery is an extremely remote possibility for most of us regardless of our preferred method of handgun carry. Back in the 7-11, if he sees someone is armed he is forced to either significantly alter the plan or abort it outright. Robbing is an inherently apprehensive occupation, and one that doesn’t respond well to instant modifications. He is not prepared to commit murder when he only planned for larceny. He knows that a petty robbery will not garner the intense police manhunt a murder would. He doesn’t know if you’re an armed citizen or a police officer and isn’t going to take the time to figure it out. Either way, if someone in the 7-11 is unexpectedly armed, how many others might be similarly adorned and where might they be? Does this armed individual have a partner who is likewise armed behind him in the parking lot, someone who is watching right now? Self preservation compels him to abort the plan for one that is less risky. So we see that the logic matches the history; open carriers are not the first ones shot because it doesn’t make any sense that they would be.

Probably the most common condemnation of open carry comes from the armchair tacticians who believe it’s better to have the element of surprise in a criminal encounter. Although this was touched on in the previous paragraph about deterrence, I’ll expand on it specifically here because there are some important truths you need to consider before you lean too heavily on this false support. Surprise as a defensive tactic is based on unrealistic or ill-thought out scenarios. The circumstance where several street toughs surround and taunt you for a while like in some Charles Bronson movie is not realistic; the mugger wants to get in and out as fast as possible. In most cases you will have only seconds to realize what’s happening, make a decision, and react. Imagine you’re walking along the sidewalk when two gangsta looking teenagers suddenly appear at the corner coming in the opposite direction. You have only seconds to react if their intent was to victimize you. Do you draw your concealed firearm now or wait until there’s an actual visible threat? If they are just on their way to church and you pull a gun on them, you are the criminal and you may forever lose your firearms rights for such a foolish action. If you don’t draw and they pull a knife or pistol when they’re just a couple steps away, your only options are draw (if you think you can) or comply. Imagine staring at the shiny blade of a knife being held by a very nervous and violent mugger, three inches from your or your wife’s throat and having to decide whether or not you have time to draw from concealment. The element of surprise may not do you any good; in fact the only surprising thing that might happen is that your concealed carry pistol gets taken along with your wallet. The thug will later get a good chuckle with his buddies about how you brought a gun to a knife fight. The simple truth is that while surprise is a monumentally superior tactical maneuver, it is exclusively an offensive action, not a defensive one. I am not aware of any army that teaches using surprise as a defense against attack. No squad of soldiers goes on patrol with their weapons hidden so that they can ‘surprise’ the enemy should they walk into an ambush.

It Will Get Stolen:
Another common criticism of open carry is that the firearm itself will be the target of theft, prompting as criminal to attack simply to get the gun from you. Like the previous example of being the first one shot in a robbery, above, this is despite the fact that there is no credible evidence it happens. It also blindly ignores the more obvious fact that anything you possess can make you the target of a crime, be it a car, a watch, or even a female companion (girlfriend, wife, or daughter). Crooks commonly steal for only two reasons; to get something you have that they want, or to get something that you have so they can sell it and buy something they want. There are no Robins in the hood trying to help the poor by stealing from the rich. I don’t claim it could never happen; just that it’s so remote a possibility that it doesn’t warrant drastic alterations to your self defense strategies. If you believe otherwise, leave your watch, sunglasses, jewelry, and cell phone at home, hop into your Pinto wagon, and head out to do your thing.

It Scares People:
One other statement against open carry I hear is that it damages public perception of firearms owners, or that by carrying openly we are not being good ambassadors to the public. While there are some people who have a genuine fear of firearms, due either to some horrible past experience or anti-gun indoctrination, the majority of people are either indifferent to them or quite fascinated by them. I’ve never kept track of the dozens of fellow citizens I’ve encountered who have marveled at the idea of open carry, but I do know exactly how many have expressed displeasure at it; one. People are scared of many things for many reasons; however, pretending those things do not exist only perpetuates the fear. Someone who is disturbed by open carry is going to be every bit as disturbed by concealed carry. The only effective way to overcome a fear is to come to the intellectual realization that the phobia is based on emotion and not on fact. By being a firsthand witness that a firearm was carried responsibly and peaceably, and wasn’t being carried in the commission of a crime, one discovers their fear is not fact based, but emotional. Thus, open carry can be a very effectual way of helping to overcome the emotionally based fear of the firearm. After all, you’d be much more likely to believe in ghosts if you saw one rather than if you listened to a ghost story around a campfire. We give much more credibility to the things we experience than we do to the things we hear. The bottom line is that this argument is made by people who don’t or haven’t carried openly; those of us who do so on a regular basis have an entirely different experience.

I’m Not Comfortable Carrying Openly:
This is really the only reasonable argument against open carry for an individual. We all have a comfort zone for any aspect of our lives and we prefer to stay within that comfort zone. We all agree that it’s better to be armed and never need the firearm than it is to need it and not have it. There is a point where concealing your firearm becomes so problematic, due to conditions like temperature or comfort, that some choose to either leave it behind or carry in such a way that it would be difficult or impossible to draw it quickly. If it takes me five or six seconds to draw my firearm from deep concealment and I had sufficient time before hand to do so, I would prefer to use that five or six seconds to avoid the entire encounter. I’m glad we have concealed carry laws in most of the states; it empowers and protects not only us but the general public through the offset deterrent effect. Some of us, however, choose the more direct deterrent effect of open carry. The combination of the two makes the criminal’s job that much more risky, that much more dangerous, and that much more uncertain.

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  1. Joseph DeGrazia says

    Ingrid Lewin…you go ahead and support Lori Saldana’s law….but when your’e in public and it’s the bad guy who has the gun, your’e gonna wish that a group of law abiding armed men was around. All of the “men with guns” that you saw passed a background check and took a safety test. Also, I’m positive that every one of those men is a stand out citizen who has nothing but positive intentions. When you disarm the good guys…the bad guys are still armed….they don’t obey the law….THEYR’E CRIMINALS.

    • Wendy Lack says

      It’s just a matter of time before California’s new (eff. 1/1/2012) open carry ban is ruled unconstitutional, given the number of the state’s urban counties that refuse to issue concealed carry permits.

      If law-abiding citizens are unable to obtain a concealed carry permit AND unable to open carry, the 2nd Amendment is effectively negated — it might as well not exist. Such a circumstance is clearly unconstitutional.

      Under such conditions, only the criminals and the State will carry firearms — a bad recipe for individual freedom.

  2. Patriot Henry says

    Regarding citizens openly carrying firearms being targeted: speaking for myself, that would be preferable to having other people, most likely unarmed and much more likely to be women or children than myself, be the target. In addition it would serve as an excellent means of communicating to the prepared individual that there is an active threat needing to be addressed, and furthermore the criminal would likely be facing the citizen and thus be presenting a better shot opportunity.

  3. Law abiding Citizen says

    I am outraged that Assembly person Saldana would make such a bill that is a outright attack on the Constitution and the freedoms it affords each and every citizen. Shouldnt her job be protecting those freedoms and not taking them away? Just because someone is uncomfortable seeing a open carry firearm being displayed, is no reason to remove that freedom for everyone. Lets say for example that there is a group of people who are “uncomfortable” around snakes, or swimming pools, or loud motorcycles, DONT GO AROUND THEM. What if a group of people is uncomfortable around another group of people, say gang bangers, or or muslems, or blacks, or whites or asians or mexicans or whatever, what then Assembly person Saldana? do we ban gang bangers, or or muslems, or blacks, or whites or asians or mexicans or whatever? This is a outrage. and a attack on our rights and freedoms.
    At 52 years old, I have been around for a little while, thinking back, I was trying to remember ANY time I have seen someone “open carrying”. Aside from the Pomona gun show, I can remember NEVER seeing anyone open carrying. So I began asking my friends the same question, “ever seen someone open carrying who is not a law enforcement? No one I asked could site ever seeing someone open carrying either, SO, Assembly person Saldana, what is the problem that needs a bill passed if there is no problem?
    Looks to me like a Politician, trying to get a bill passed with their name on it, trashing the 2nd amendment and the freedoms and saftey of thousands and thousands of law abiding citizens, just so you can have your name on a bill, you should be ashamed assembly person Saldana.

  4. PACO says

    The correct solution is to ban open carry and allow concealed carry. That’s how it works in Texas and other states. The second amendment allows citizens to “keep and bear arms”, but what use are they if you’re required to keep them locked in a gun safe at home? Remember, the bad guys are always carrying concealed weapons.

  5. Chet says

    I knew these gun nuts would get a proper reaction from Congress. We never need guns to be carried into public buildings and they are never necessary. When gun nuts push the general public they will be a push back from the public. They need to take their guns to gun clubs and shooting ranges not the local cafe.

    ~ EDITOR CLARIFIES — Thanks Chet. I believe it is a bill in California Assembly, not Congress. Yet.

  6. Henry says

    @ Ingrid

    Maybe next time you can attempt to have a conversation with these armed people. You might actually find out that they are just normal law abiding citizens. It may put your irrational fear to rest.

    You do realize it’s the criminals that are carrying illegal concealed weapons right?

  7. Paul Kersey says

    So suppressing an individual’s Second Amendment rights isn’t enough for Lori Saldaña – she now wants to stamp out the First Amendment too. What’s next?

  8. Ingrid Lewin says

    More power to you. It is very frightening to play with your grandkids on the beach and there they are: a group of men with guns. Scared is not the word, petrified covers it better. I am supporting your bill 100%. In this time of shootings reported almost everyday in the news media, how am I not supposed to be scared out of my mind? Ingrid Lewin

  9. Tony says

    Proving once again that there are those that feel that by taking away the rights of the law abiding citizens of this country, and there by empowering criminals, that somehow the world will become a safer place.

  10. XYZ says

    The more likely and legitimate fear is that the Open Carry movement will be infiltrated by police, government agents, informants to plant one or more provocateurs. At an upcoming Open Carry action, the moles or agents will act out in a violent manner, discrediting the entire movement and invoking public wrath and backlash. This will empower politicians like Saldaña and even so-called ‘pro-gun’ politicians like David Harmer to call for further curtailment of the 2nd Amendment.

    ~ EDITOR GASPS IN DISBELIEF — Our government? No Way. We don’t torture, either.

  11. Lois says

    I say what do people have to fear from the Open Carry group? What the people really have to fear are the thugs, gangs, criminals, and politicians such as Saldana. I think what more politicians need to focus on, is cleaning up our government, instead of law abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights. People shouldn’t fear Open Carry. What they should fear are corrupt politicians, and thugs/criminals that carry hidden guns.

  12. says

    It is people like Lori Saldaña with her anti-open-carry teachings than put the idea into people’s heads to ‘fear’ someone who is openly armed. We now live in a ‘fear’ society, and are taught to fear everything not ‘politically correct.’ How many times has she and others like her been in the presence of criminals who have concealed weapons. But then, like an ostrich with her head in the sand, she doesn’t want to know that. Public officials like her like to believe that she and other government employees can ‘protect’ us. Statistics prove otherwise.

  13. J.R. says

    Is it just a coincidence that the title of the previous post is “… an enemy of the people”?

    Which is exactly what Saldana and her pro-criminal safety, victim-disarming cohorts are.