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Proposed open carry ban sparks protest

April 22, 2011|By Joe Piasecki
  • Kaile Shilling and Daniel Healy of the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles took part in a counter-demonstration in support of Assemblyman Anthony Portantino's proposed open carry ban.
Kaile Shilling and Daniel Healy of the Violence Prevention…

A group of gun rights activists took to the busy streets of Old Pasadena on Thursday with pistols at their hips in protest of a proposed statewide ban on the open carry of firearms.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) is author of a bill backed by the California Police Chiefs Association that would make it illegal for gun owners to openly display unloaded firearms in public places.

Such public showings of unloaded weapons are permitted under current state law, which also allows gun holders to carry ammunition separately on their person.

Pasadena police reported no incidents or arrests during the early evening parade along Colorado Boulevard, where about 30 supporters of the gun rights advocacy group South Bay Open Carry gathered.

Across the street, Portantino joined a counter-demonstration organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence that also included the NAACP Pasadena Branch, the Violence Prevention Council of Greater Los Angeles and members of the Pasadena All Saints Episcopal Church.

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“Though these activists have every right to make their point, I think it’s actually helping [our] case because people can see it’s a little over the top. You don’t need a weapon to buy a cheeseburger,” said Portantino, whose district office is nearwhere the pro-gun demonstrators gathered.

Gene McCarthy, president of South Bay Open Carry, argued the law would effectively eliminate Californians’ Second Amendment rights.

“If you can’t get a concealed weapon permit and you can’t open carry, then you can’t do anything. That leaves people in danger,” McCarthy said.

The proposed ban is expected to face a vote of the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee as early as May, after which it would go to the Assembly floor.

“Basically, we’re making a statement to protect our right to bear arms,” said open carry activist and Ontario resident Leighanne Nickle. “It’s unlawful for me to carry a concealed weapon, so I have to choose what’s lawful for me at the moment. It makes me feel safe as a woman.”

Following the demonstration, open carry activists found themselves unwelcome at several area restaurants, where window signs provided by the Brady Campaign declared some establishments gun-free zones.

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