Bay Area Open Carry responds to San Mateo Sheriff warnings

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release, last Thursday, in response to inquires regarding the legality of individuals openly carrying firearms on their person in public.


California Penal Code Section 12025 makes it unlawful to carry a concealed firearm, however, firearms carried openly in belt holsters are not considered “concealed” within the meaning of this section.

Penal Code Section 12031 makes it unlawful to carry a loaded firearm in public. Individuals may, however, legally carry ammunition that is not attached to the firearm in any way. In order to determine whether or not a firearm is loaded, for the purpose of enforcing this section, law enforcement officers are authorized, but not mandated, to examine any firearm carried by an individual while in a public place, or on a public street. However, without consent or probable cause, officers cannot search for the firearm’s serial number (People v. DeLong (1970) 11 Cal.App.3d 786). Once the firearm is determined to be unloaded, there is no further law enforcement action required, and the individual in question should be free to go about their lawful business. Even concerning items in “plain view,” such as a firearm’s serial number, law enforcement is required by the 4th Amendment to have probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of a persons’ property (Arizona v. Hicks (1987) 480 US 321). Absent any other reasonable suspicious or articulable facts, openly carrying a firearm does not give law enforcement officers probable cause to believe any criminal activity is occurring. Additionally, individuals practicing unloaded open carry are not required to produce identification.

California Penal Code Section 626.9 makes it unlawful to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of any public or private K-12 school if the individual in question knows, or should have known, they were within such a zone.


Openly carrying a firearm is a completely lawful act in the State of California and law enforcement professionals throughout the state should adjust their response accordingly. The San Mateo County Sheriff, and his deputies, are peace officers that swore an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. They must honor that oath. Publicly discouraging citizens from lawfully carrying firearms is not supporting and defending the U.S. Constitution. Officers are expected to appropriately assess each situation and respond in a safe manner while respecting the rights’ of each individual and demonstrating the utmost professionalism in their conduct as they impartially enforce the law. Anything less would be a disservice to the people they are employed to serve.


Bay Area Open Carry is a movement, rather than an organized group, of individuals that support and exercise the right to keep and bear arms. We expect law enforcement agencies to respect the rights of all citizens. We can generally relate to the concerns of law enforcement personnel when responding to a “man with a gun” call, and by no means are our practices or efforts intended to “test” law enforcement in any way.

We, as individuals, are also aware that law enforcement personnel, as well as the government employing them, are not generally liable to victims of criminal acts for a failure to provide adequate police protection as ruled by the Court in Warren v. D.C. (444 A.2d.1, D.C. Ct. of Ap. 1981). As a result, we understand that it is our responsibility as citizens to protect ourselves from criminal acts because officers cannot be everywhere at all times. Unfortunately, Bay Area law enforcement agencies very rarely issue permits for the concealed carry of a firearm. Responsibly practicing the unloaded open carry of a firearm is the best protection afforded to California residents under the law.


There are commonsense ways for law enforcement personnel to gather pertinent information from a potential caller reporting a “man with a gun.” We strongly urge San Mateo County Sheriff, Greg Munks, to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, and work to uphold California state law, by implementing a Department policy to assist his deputies and dispatch personnel. For example, dispatch personnel should obtain as much information about the demeanor, behavior, and activities of the individual in possession of the firearm along with the safety concerns of the reporting party. Dispatch should determine if there is any unlawful activity in progress and quickly report such vital information to responding deputies. Additionally, a more liberal issuance of Concealed Carry Weapons Permits in the Bay Area would provide citizens with a practical alternative for personal protection.

We as residents of the State of California ask that the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office rethink their positions so as to not have any unfortunate consequences due to an unnecessary “hyper-vigilant” response that is not warranted.

Bay Area Open Carry
Contact: BayArea_OC [at] yahoo [dot] com

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  1. says

    i would like to see something like this put into a pamphlet to give to people who have questions about why we open carry.

  2. Jon Schwartz says

    Not an illegal act – no law enforcement intervention required. Seems as simple as that. :-)

  3. Jacob Martson says

    sounds reasonable to me. its a constitutional right, let’s pray that the sheriff will actually uphold the law and not overstep his bounds. there is plenty of other crime and problems to handle before attacking this so called “problem”.

  4. Joanne says

    The Sheriff’s department should adjust their policy when responding to a lawful act. An internal memo and some officer training should bring the San Mateo County Sheriff’s department up to speed.