At the GS2AC year-end meeting in November, we had a presentation of the Open Carry movement along with an internal memo of the Sunnyvale Police.
GS2AC supports all of our gun rights, including our right to open carry an unloaded sidearm in public. We did caution everyone about the problems associated with actively asserting this particular right.
Recently a 74-year-old San Jose man was charged with misdemeanor for carrying gun near school. He is VERY LUCKY, as he could have been charged with a FELONY!
We caution you to be very careful if you decide to Open Carry.
A person who just moved to California from a gun-friendly state asked me a question about Open Carry. Here is my reply:
At our November meeting, we showed a news video that reported a group of people in Sunnyvale, CA met at a Starbucks coffee shop openly carrying firearms. Some of them may be members of Open Carry (http://www.opencarry.org).
While it IS legal to carry a firearm openly, you should contact them for the particulars and I strongly suggest you contact a lawyer who has experience in Second Amendment laws in California. You can look up particular laws at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html. That said, here are some of my own personal comments, and I must state that these are my own comments as a citizen and not comments from my position of VP of the Golden State Second Amendment Council (included for legal reasons).
As a general rule several things need to be observed:
No open carry is allowed within 1000 feet of any school. This also includes day-care centers and private schools that may not have signs that show where they are located. So you should find out where ALL the schools are when wearing a sidearm. Carrying in court houses and other government buildings will also get you arrested. Interestingly, the Sunnyvale Police have circulated a memo telling officers which Starbucks coffee shops are within 1000 feet of a school, so you can be sure they will take appropriate action if they find anyone sitting there with a firearm on their hip.
The sidearm MUST NOT BE CONCEALED. A coat worn so that it covers any part of the sidearm makes it concealed. It does not matter if the gun is partially visible.
Most importantly, the sidearm MAY NOT BE LOADED (remember, this is California). You cannot have a loaded magazine inserted into OR “attached” to the firearm. A cartridge in the chamber is also prohibited. Even a cartridge or magazine “in contact” with the firearm makes it a loaded firearm. (Technically a bullet even taped to the grip makes the firearm a loaded weapon. (Yes, there is a law on the books that allows the open carrying of a loaded firearm in some unincorporated county areas of the state, provided the county or town does not have a local law prohibiting it and the population is under 200,000.)
You can carry loaded magazines in a holder the side of your waist belt opposite the holster. I would avoid using the magazine pocket on a holster, as some officer may consider that to be “in contact” with the sidearm.
You must let the officer examine your firearm to verify that it is indeed unloaded – and you will be repeatedly stopped and checked. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES REACH FOR YOUR GUN WHEN THE OFFICER ASKS TO CHECK YOUR FIREARM. I guarantee that you will have a very bad day. Let the officer remove it or instruct you on what to do.
Before you go outside, make VERY SURE that the sidearm does not have a magazine in it AND the chamber does not have a cartridge in it. Physically verify that fact with your little finger with pistols.
You can bet money that a police officer getting a call of a “person with a gun” may be apprehensive and nervous when approaching you. The last thing you would need is a rookie cop shooting you – you would have a very, very bad day.
All of that said, you are guaranteed the right to openly carry a firearm in California; just make sure you know all the rules, and are up on the latest laws.
At the November meeting of the GS2AC, we did have a Second Amendment attorney state that he definitely supports our Second Amendment Rights, but he still offered the advice not to carry openly due to all the above things that could happen to make you have a very bad day.