Saturday, September 29, 2012

California Bans Open Carrying of Rifles and Shotguns in Cities

Guns rights advocates are up in arms and think that a new California law is an unconstitutional violation of the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it bans the open carrying of rifles and shotguns in cities, while permitting them to be carried on private property or mounted in a vehicle -- and there are other exceptions. See the Los Angeles Times and State adopts wider law on guns. Actually the law extends to rifles and shotguns an "open carry" law already in effect for handguns in California.

As a matter of law, "gun regulation" pits "States' Rights" against "The Right to Bear Arms", both of which are conservative strongholds in legal thinking. There is no question that individual States can pass gun regulations -- the question is how far they can go in limiting the carrying of weapons.

A good argument can be made, for example, thinking strictly from a conservative point of view, that law enforcement officials have to be in a position to protect citizens and not have to guess whether an openly carried weapon on a private person is loaded or not and whether it is being worn for good or evil purposes, i.e. they should not have to wait until someone opens fire to know which is which in situations where the carrying of weapons might possibly endanger the citizenry.

A nice way to view the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- "the right to keep and bear Arms" -- is perhaps to say that citizens are of course permitted to own and have weapons for peaceful purposes and in the case of armed protection of their country or themselves, to bear such arms, but that this does not include the brandishing of weapons in public locations where such weapons are not required, indeed, where they create a public nuisance and possible endangerment of the public.

We recall here Westerns on TV where a man had to leave his "Colt" at the door before entering the local bar through the swinging doors. Can a state say that the same rule applies when a gunslinger tries to enter a "civilized" metropolis through the "city gates" - we think yes.

Put another way, a citizen has the right to keep and bear guns at home, but this does not give the right to brandish them in public.

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