This article describes the reaction to an man open carrying his handgun in an East Palo Alto supermarket, provoking a police response of four officers, who verified that the firearm was unload. The man was evidently inspired by recent open carry events he saw in TV:
The man, who lives in Redwood City, later apologized to police and said "he didn't really think it out," Norris added.Another article , from the SF Examiner, serves as an introductory piece describing the open carry movement, recent events, and legal status of open carry. They make a point: most Bay Area residents are pretty surprised to find that open carry of handguns is legal. How can they not be surprised, when law enforcement agencies are caught off-guard:
The truth is that many law enforcers and prosecutors had not even heard of the phrase “open carry” until late 2009, when the growing movement gained footing on the Peninsula, said Steve Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney of San Mateo County. It’s been legal in California to openly carry unloaded firearms since 1999 as long as you are not within 1,000 feet of K-12 schools.I will fault what is an otherwise informative article for this mistake: as far as I know it has always been legal to open carry in California, not just since 1999 as mentioned above.
Recent open carry activity in the Bay Area has attracted the notice of newspapers in other parts of the country, like West Virginia, and Bay Area gun control groups like the local chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which has prevailed upon local Peet's Coffee & Tea and California Pizza Kitchen restaurants to refuse to serve open carrying customers, as related in this KPIX television report. It is unclear if this is a company wide policy, or the decision of the local store owner: neither company mentions an open carry prohibition on their web sites.
Open Carry advocates reacted by planning another open carry event for this weekend at a Starbucks Coffee shop in Antioch, reported to be open carry friendly. Brady Campaign members promise to protest that event as well.
I guess the drama will only escalate from here.
UPDATE: I guess KGO was just slow out of the gate, but they finally did cover this story here. This one quotes a CPK spokesperson, implying that the open carry policy is official and company-wide.
UPDATE: SFGate also covers this story, and quotes the official policies of Peet's and CPK. One comment from the above article expresses my own concern about open carry events gaining more publicity:
If you really want to draw attention to yourself AND prompt our over zealous legislators to make yet another new law - this one banning you from open carrying - my advice is to keep on wasting police time running backwards and forwards to the coffee shop with an empty gun strapped to your thigh. Please stop - our cops have got better things to do than stopping losers and checking thier weapons every 10 mins. Time to grow the fark up.In this state where AB 962 was passed without any real opposition, I could well imagine several legislative responses from Sacramento: banning open carry, or even scrapping the CCW permit system altogether. The Democratic legislators in this state are pretty uniformly anti-gun and will use any excuse to narrow gun rights.
Remember, there is no right to bear arms in the California Constitution.