The open carry movement, an aggressive campaign asserting the right of all Americans to carry unconcealed firearms in public, operates under a simple premise spelled out in a banner headline on the opencarry.org website: "A right unexercised is a right lost." But in California, the opposite may well turn out to be true — in-your-face demonstrations by gun-toting activists have prompted a legislative backlash that may end open carry in this state for good.
That's OK by us. There is no compelling reason society should tolerate weekend commandos flashing their firearms, confounding law enforcement officers and terrorizing the public.
The Assembly on Tuesday approved a bill forbidding the open carry of unloaded firearms. (It's already illegal to openly carry loaded guns, and only people with permits issued by a law enforcement agency are allowed to carry concealed weapons.) The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Lori Saldana (D- San Diego) after about 60 armed open carry demonstrators frightened families and tourists on Pacific Beach last year.
Carrying an unloaded gun isn't as harmless as open carry advocates like to claim. It only takes a second to slap a clip into an unloaded semiautomatic, and an armed society is not a friendly society; angry disputes can turn deadly when the antagonists are packing heat, and untrained shooters can miss their targets and hit bystanders. Moreover, it is very difficult for police, or anybody else, to know whether a gun is loaded while it's holstered.