California lawmakers are taking aim at a protest movement that encourages participants to show up at public places en masse with handguns strapped to their side, reports the Sacramento Bee. The “open carry” movement sparked shock waves last year when about a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, stood outside an Arizona convention center where President Barack Obama was speaking.
The California Assembly narrowly passed legislation yesterday to prohibit the practice, which typically is meant to protest gun-control laws or the scarcity of concealed-weapons permits. It is legal if the guns are not loaded. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken no position on the bill. The measure would make it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail, to carry an exposed handgun in a public place or on a public street in a city or in prohibited areas of unincorporated county territory.