SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A bill that would ban the public display of rifles and shotguns in most California cities and towns was on its way to the governor after the state Assembly approved it Wednesday over strenuous objections from several lawmakers.
Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada-Flintridge, said he initiated the legislation in response to gun rights advocates who began carrying unloaded long guns to protest legislation approved last year that prohibited the public display of handguns.
Opponents, mainly Republicans, called it an attempt to infringe on Second Amendment rights.
Supporters noted that the latest legislation, AB1527, was sought by the state police chiefs association and the Peace Officers Research Association of California, which represents local, state and federal law enforcement officers.
Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, invoked a rash of recent gun crimes, including fatal shootings this summer inside a movie theater in suburban Denver and a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee. None of the high-profile incidents he referenced are believed to have included riflesor shotguns.
"The right to see Batman should be a fundamental right," Cedillo said, referring to the deadly shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., last month that killed 12 people and injured 58. "The right to run for office and talk to your constituents should be a fundamental right. The right to worship should be a fundamental right."
Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, R-Fresno, chastised Cedillo for bringing up the Aurora shooting during what was already a heated debate that lasted more than an hour. Halderman, a doctor, said she hasn't heard of anyone being injured by an unloaded rifle, unless they were hit over the head with one.
"I really would be careful about invoking Aurora," she said. "Human beings died there and they died because of loaded weapons."
It is already illegal to openly carry a loaded gun in California. Opponents said the ban on openly displaying unloaded weapons is an attack on rural Californians, despite exemptions for hunters or those bringing their guns to shooting ranges or gunsmiths.
The legislation, if it is signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, would make it a misdemeanor for a person to carry an unloaded long gun in a public place in incorporated communities and in some unincorporated communities. There are numerous exemptions for hunters, members of the military and others, and the practice would still be allowed in rural areas.
AB1527 was approved 43-30, with three Democrats joining their GOP colleagues in opposition.