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Swiss
01-21-2010, 11:12 PM
Didn't see it posted yet so I hope it's not a dupe.

Open gun carry events growing in Bay Area (http://www.contracostatimes.com/top-stories/ci_14241180)

Open gun carry events growing in Bay Area
Janis Mara and Sean Maher
MediaNews Staff Writers
Posted: 01/20/2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Updated: 01/21/2010 08:47:22 PM PST


David LaTour rolled out of bed on a recent Saturday morning and prepared for a leisurely lunch: Wallet, check. Car keys, check. Springfield XD 9 mm pistol and ammunition, check.

Springfield XD 9 mm pistol and ammunition?

The Hayward resident is a member of an organization slowly gaining membership in the Bay Area. Open Carry aims to make it possible for Americans in every state to legally carry loaded guns in public. The loosely organized Bay Area chapter is igniting powerful feelings among law enforcement agencies, gun control advocates and ordinary residents.

"I do it to defend myself and my rights. Carrying guns can prevent burglaries and assaults," LaTour said.

The San Jose State engineering student meets in public places with fellow members of the group, who all display holstered unloaded pistols.

Open Carry advocates rely on a section in the California Penal Code that prohibits concealed weapons. It states that "guns carried openly in belt holsters are not concealed." It is legal to do so as long as the group or individual is 1,000 feet away from a K-12 school.

"I have a right to bear arms under the Constitution," LaTour said as he settled into a chair at Peet's Coffee & Tea near Whole Foods in San Ramon with his unloaded Springfield in a holster on one hip and ammo on the other. Five other armed Bay Area Open Carry members and other unarmed friends joined him.

'Makes me nervous'

Many Peet's patrons clearly were disturbed when the Open Carry group walked in.

"I'm scared. I'm getting out of here," said Steve Atkinson, a Pleasanton resident who was joined by his wife, Petra, as he sipped a cappuccino. "They say they want to make a statement. What's wrong with a T-shirt?" he asked.

"It makes me nervous big time," added San Ramon resident Azadeh Shenas. "What if there's a car crash, people are arguing and one shoots the other?"

Not everyone was upset. Ten-year-old Lottie Goddard walked up to the group with the encouragement of her father, Andy, and mother, Sammy.

"My Uncle Ray is going to teach me to shoot a gun for my 11th birthday," she declared.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms. However, California's constitution does not, and the state has some of the tightest gun restrictions in the country. It is against the law to openly carry a loaded gun in public, and it is difficult to get a permit to carry a concealed firearm in many counties.

"Often, the police don't realize it's our legal right to openly carry an unloaded gun in California," said Open Carry member Jon Schwartz, of Livermore, at the recent coffee klatch.

Dangers described

While law enforcement agencies recognize that right, they still caution against the dangers of its practice, San Mateo County Sheriff's Lt. Ray Lunny said.

"Open carry advocates create a potentially very dangerous situation," he said. "When police are called to a 'man with a gun' call, they typically are responding to a situation about which they have few details other than that one or more people are present at a location and are armed. Officers have no idea that these people may simply be 'exercising their rights.'

"Should the gun-carrying person "... move in a way that could be construed as threatening, the police are forced to respond in kind for their own protection. It's well and good in hindsight to say the gun carrier was simply 'exercising their rights,' but the result could be deadly," Lunny said.

"I think that's a little bit over the top," said Walter Stanley, an Open Carry member from Livermore who carries a Springfield XD.

Law enforcement officials should have policies on "man with a gun" calls as to whether it is a dangerous situation such as a man brandishing a gun in an argument or a man who is simply carrying a gun, he said.

A San Mateo County prosecutor said he was assigned to handle the open carry issue when the gatherings began popping up in the Bay Area after a spurt of popularity in Southern California.

"It certainly seems that interest in this kind of thing is higher in the last year or two," San Mateo County assistant district attorney Morley Pitt said.

The gatherings have not resulted in any criminal charges in San Mateo or Alameda counties.

However, residents were concerned enough to call the police when Stanley wore an unloaded gun to a Livermore interview with the media earlier this month. Four Livermore police officers responded, one with rifle drawn, and two officers ordered Stanley up against a wall with his hands over his head. After checking his weapon and finding it unloaded, the officers left.

In Santa Clara County, 74-year-old Sherman "Tony" Fontano was charged with a misdemeanor for carrying an unloaded gun within 1,000 feet of a school in December, according to Nick Muyo of the District Attorney's Office.

The San Jose resident told Bay Area News Group that he did so after hearing about the Open Carry movement and getting assurance from police that he could legally carry an unloaded gun. Fontano, who is scheduled to be arraigned today, said police did not warn him about the school restriction.

Worried about crime

The group's tactics could lead to problems in a higher crime environment, said Mike Sobek, a police officer and secretary of the statewide Peace Officers Research Association of California.

"Tell (Open Carry members) to walk down International Boulevard and 72nd Avenue (in Oakland) and tell (people there) how normal it is to walk with a gun in open view. I don't think that would work. This is not 1892. It's not the wild, wild West any more," he said.

Sharing Sobek's concern was Contra Costa County prosecutor Bruce Flynn. "I don't have any objection to people owning guns. I'm just a little concerned about people open carrying them in public, just because these things can be misread so easily."

On the contrary, Stanley said. When everyone carries a gun, misreading situations is less likely, he thinks.

"We want not just police and criminals to be carrying guns, but law-abiding citizens as well. "... An armed society is a polite society," he said.

Should Open Carry succeed in its campaign to legalize publicly carrying loaded guns in California, the effect "is not likely to be either nirvana or the apocalypse," said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor and author of books on constitutional law.

Concealed weapons laws vary widely across the country. In the 1980s, about nine states issued concealed weapons licenses to individuals who passed a test. That number has grown to about 40 states, but massive violence has not resulted, he said.

'Just aren't trained'

Griffin Dix, a gun safety advocate who is not opposed to gun ownership, questioned the wisdom of carrying weapons in public.

He has been an advocate for gun safety ever since 1994, when his 15-year-old son was killed by a friend who was playing with a gun — not knowing a bullet remained in the chamber.

The Kensington resident is president of the Alameda County chapter of the Brady Campaign, an organization fighting to reduce gun violence.

"The open carry people talk about their rights, and I don't want to take away their rights," Dix said. "But they just aren't trained to have a gun in public the way police are. Police get that training several times a year, and you still see tragic deaths happen because they're armed in public. I don't want to take anyone's guns away, but people should leave them at home."

Three local chapters of the Brady Campaign wrote to shop owners and several Bay Area mayors after a Livermore open carry event. They argued that shop owners have property rights and an obligation to protect the safety of their customers by prohibiting guns on their premises.

In early January, after an Open Carry event in Livermore, organizers announced another would be held Feb. 6 at the California Pizza Kitchen in Walnut Creek.

The company said the group was not welcome.

"California Pizza Kitchen does not allow guests other than uniformed officers to display firearms in our restaurants," a company representative told Bay Area News Group.

"We're sorry to hear that (California Pizza Kitchen) doesn't want us to show up with firearms, but at the same time we respect property rights," Stanley said. "We would not want to make them or their customers uncomfortable, so we will take our firearms and business elsewhere."

Reach Janis Mara at jmara@bayareanewsgroup.com. Reach Sean Maher at smaher@bayareanewsgroup.com

wildhawker
01-21-2010, 11:48 PM
"A San Mateo County prosecutor said he was assigned to handle the open carry issue..."

Whiskey84
01-21-2010, 11:55 PM
The gatherings have not resulted in any criminal charges in San Mateo or Alameda counties.

Concealed weapons laws vary widely across the country. In the 1980s, about nine states issued concealed weapons licenses to individuals who passed a test. That number has grown to about 40 states, but massive violence has not resulted, he said.


I liked these parts. They show facts and logic, and not individuals' feelings.

M198
01-22-2010, 1:35 AM
This is a pretty well balanced article. No slant one way or another. Decent reporting.

Sunshine
01-22-2010, 3:16 AM
Open Carry aims to make it possible for Americans in every state to legally carry loaded guns in public.


I found this funny. Now I'm sad.

corrupt
01-22-2010, 5:11 AM
Funny that I shared exactly the same opinion as officer Mike Sobek in another thread.

GrizzlyGuy
01-23-2010, 10:11 AM
Rats, I guess they decided to charge the 74-year-old gentleman (http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=250854) after all. Last I heard, they weren't pressing charges:

In Santa Clara County, 74-year-old Sherman "Tony" Fontano was charged with a misdemeanor for carrying an unloaded gun within 1,000 feet of a school in December, according to Nick Muyo of the District Attorney's Office.

The San Jose resident told Bay Area News Group that he did so after hearing about the Open Carry movement and getting assurance from police that he could legally carry an unloaded gun. Fontano, who is scheduled to be arraigned today, said police did not warn him about the school restriction.

Lone_Gunman
01-23-2010, 11:04 AM
Semi-balanced article IMHO. At least they did show the gunnies side. The Antis they talked to at Peets sounded like absolute morons.

pullnshoot25
01-23-2010, 11:38 AM
Funny that I shared exactly the same opinion as officer Mike Sobek in another thread.

I would expect nothing less from you.

press1280
01-23-2010, 11:44 AM
I wished the officer who made the Wild West comment would also comment on why it is these people are open carrying. You have to get the feeling many(not all of course) would prefer to have a CCW and not have to worry about this. CA has themselves to blame for this by allowing a discriminatory issuance system to exist in the first place.

J20DB
01-23-2010, 12:37 PM
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but did anyone notice the specific phrases that were emphasized in bold by the author?

'Makes me nervous'
"Dangers described"
"Worried about crime"
'Just aren't trained'

Despite the article itself being fairly balanced (although I do think that it leaned slightly towards the view point of the anti's), I think I see what the author hoped the reader would take away from the story...

ZombieTactics
01-23-2010, 1:00 PM
Well, no more California Pizza Kitchen for me. Letter to be sent.

Joe
01-23-2010, 1:10 PM
Well, no more California Pizza Kitchen for me. Letter to be sent.

The barbecue chicken pizza is too delicious for me to pass up :(

erik
01-23-2010, 1:14 PM
Well, no more California Pizza Kitchen for me. Letter to be sent.

Ditto. I sent in a response on their web feedback form.

I did note that I was NOT part of the Open Carry movement, but that I was still boycotting their stores. Hopefully they'll get the hint that it's not just from movement people that they are losing business. (Also, pesky 950 character feedback limit!)

Stoner
01-23-2010, 1:40 PM
Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but did anyone notice the specific phrases that were emphasized in bold by the author?

'Makes me nervous'
"Dangers described"
"Worried about crime"
'Just aren't trained'

Despite the article itself being fairly balanced (although I do think that it leaned slightly towards the view point of the anti's), I think I see what the author hoped the reader would take away from the story...

That brings up an interesting point, the 2A does not address training issues. So is it your perspective that anyone qualified to buy a firearm, should be able to UOC in public. I have seen a number of morons on public ranges that have no idea how to handle a firearm. How do we deal with those individuals??

swhatb
01-23-2010, 1:49 PM
Good article.

dantodd
01-23-2010, 1:55 PM
That brings up an interesting point, the 2A does not address training issues. So is it your perspective that anyone qualified to buy a firearm, should be able to UOC in public. I have seen a number of morons on public ranges that have no idea how to handle a firearm. How do we deal with those individuals??

Same way we deal with their ability to exercise their first amendment rights despite their inability to string together 2 coherent sentences. Or the same way we permit them to pro-create despite having the parenting skills of a sea turtle.

Swiss
01-24-2010, 1:11 PM
I think thorough initial training and annual, low cost, refresher courses should be mandatory. We have to plan for the lowest common denominator carrying a concealed weapon which, if used for its licensed purpose, is intended to kill someone. The possibility for collateral damage is significant.

By all means remove the barriers so that lawful gun-owning citizens can defend themselves when they perceive a risk, but do so in a way that reassures the rest of the public that it's being done in the safest possible manner.

Same way we deal with their ability to exercise their first amendment rights despite their inability to string together 2 coherent sentences. Or the same way we permit them to pro-create despite having the parenting skills of a sea turtle.

wildhawker
01-24-2010, 1:17 PM
I think thorough initial training and annual, low cost, refresher courses should be mandatory. We have to plan for the lowest common denominator carrying a concealed weapon which, if used for its licensed purpose, is intended to kill someone. The possibility for collateral damage is significant.

By all means remove the barriers so that lawful gun-owning citizens can defend themselves when they perceive a risk, but do so in a way that reassures the rest of the public that it's being done in the safest possible manner.

Your argument implies the creation of a taxpayer-funded government program by which to maintain a "reasonable cost" and accessible source of training. But for these programs, your concept would itself prove unconstitutional and a bar to the exercise of fundamental human rights.

Swiss
01-24-2010, 1:26 PM
I won't look at it in those black and white terms. Given that our fundamental right is already barred, an imperfect step such as this is still far better than none at all.



Your argument implies the creation of a taxpayer-funded government program by which to maintain a "reasonable cost" and accessible source of training. But for these programs, your concept would itself prove unconstitutional and a bar to the exercise of fundamental human rights.

nicki
01-24-2010, 1:35 PM
If people insist on open carry perhaps they should wear T shirts saying:

"I open carry because my sheriff refuses to issue CCW permits on a non discriminatory basis.

I am sure you guys get the idea.

"I carry because when critical seconds count, 911 will might get me help in minutes."

"The means of Self Defense is a personal choice, I respect your right to be a unarmed victim, all I ask is you respect my right to be a armed survivor".

"Victim Disarmament" makes victims helpless targets.

Nicki

GrizzlyGuy
01-24-2010, 1:36 PM
Your argument implies the creation of a taxpayer-funded government program by which to maintain a "reasonable cost" and accessible source of training. But for these programs, your concept would itself prove unconstitutional and a bar to the exercise of fundamental human rights.

Wouldn't the same be true for licensing fees? A destitute person has the same human rights as everyone else, but may not be able to afford those fees. Taxpayers would have to fund the licensing program to provide subsidies for the destitute, just as they would for a training program. The source of licenses (or training) would be the government or its subcontractors.