Whether you believe the Second Amendment is essential or outdated, the law in California used to allow anyone to carry a gun in public or in vehicles -- as long as it was openly displayed and unloaded.
California became the fifth state to make it illegal to openly carry guns after Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law Monday morning. Despite opposition from gun advocates, AB144 will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, making any open-carry act in a public place a misdemeanor with possible jail time or a $1,000 fine.
Open-carry advocates in the Bay Area -- and nationwide -- began asserting their constitutional rights to carry an open and unloaded gun back in January 2010, when they staged informal gatherings in Starbucks coffee shops while packing (unloaded) heat.
Brown also signed off on a bill today that would devote more resources toward keeping guns out of the hands of prohibited owners.
The guns in question under SB 819, authored by Mark Leno, (D-San Francisco) are guns that were purchased legally but whose owners are no longer allowed to own them because of criminal activity or mental illness. More than 18,000 Californians are registered to own firearms, the release said, and 15 to 20 names are added to the "prohibited owners" list each day. The program will conduct more cross-checks between databases to make sure registered gun owners are not also on a prohibited owners list.