AdnanShahab.com

2Dec/110

Resignation from the Responsible Citizens of California

From its inception, I have sat on the Board of Directors of the Responsible Citizens of California. And very soon after its inception, I took over the position of President of the organization. After almost two years with RCC, and against the wishes of its Board of Directors, effective immediately, I am stepping down as President. I had originally planned to stay on as a member of the Board of Directors, but I have also decided that, effective immediately, I am resigning from RCC’s Board of Directors as well.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints with my job, my personal relationships, and my campaign for State Assembly, I feel that I do not have enough time to adequately lead RCC on a day-to-day basis.  The time has come for me to hand over control of operations to someone else.  I believe this moment also provides me with a good opportunity to make a clean break and move in a slightly different direction with my life. I will continue to fight for Second Amendment rights in my own way. But from now on, I will be doing so as an individual, not as part of a formal organization.

I wish the Responsible Citizens of California the best of luck in their future endeavors, and I thank everyone for their support during my time at the helm of RCC.

Adnan Shahab
December 2, 2011

10Oct/110

Governor Brown Signs AB 144

The Responsible Citizens of California is disappointed with Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign AB 144, a bill to ban the Unloaded Open Carry of handguns, into law. Furthermore, we express very strong opposition to the passage of AB 809 (long gun registration) and SB 819 (misappropriation of DROS fees) into law.

The right to Open Carry has been legal in the State of California since its inception, and there has never been a single case of an Open Carry advocate ever committing a violent crime in the Golden State's entire 160-year history. Since no problem has ever existed that needs to be addressed or fixed, there was no reason for AB 144 in the first place.

The right to carry a firearm for personal protection is a basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right that is guaranteed by the United States Constitution, confirmed by the US Supreme Court's twin landmark rulings in both Heller and McDonald, and Unloaded Open Carry was cited as an important right in California by two federal judges in recent court decisions. This decision on the part of Governor means that, as of January 1, 2012, the fundamental right to carry a handgun will be denied to the vast majority of law-abiding California residents. It is essential that law enforcement officers understand that Unloaded Open Carry will remain legal until January 1, 2012. Open Carry advocates should be treated with respect and in a manner that does not violate any of their basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil rights.

The Responsible Citizens of California will continue to work with other 2nd Amendment organizations to plot the best possible course of action moving forward. Also, it is worth noting that while AB 144 bans the practice of Unloaded Open Carry of handguns in California, this bill does absolutely nothing to limit the civil right to Open Carry long guns (rifles and shotguns). Since the State Legislature and the Governor have chosen to attack the right to carry handguns, law-abiding citizens who wish to be able to protect themselves from violent criminals have no choice but to Open Carry long guns instead.

Compared with the rest of the country, California is behind the times with regards to 2nd Amendment Rights. Most other States have been expanding the basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right to self defense for their electorate. It is time for our elected officials in California to stop eroding every law-abiding citizen's 2nd Amendment Rights. Instead, our public servants should be working to firmly protect the basic, fundamental, and enumerated civil right to self defense and take deliberate action toward expanding these critical civil rights for all law-abiding Californians.

Adnan Shahab
President, Responsible Citizens of California

9Sep/110

AB 144 Passes in California Legislature

While I am disappointed in the outcome, I am not surprised that the Legislature has passed AB 144, a bill to ban open carry in California.  It is disheartening to know that a majority of our elected officials in Sacramento feel that it is okay to disarm law-abiding citizens and remove the only realistic means available for most people to be able to carry a firearm for personal protection in this state.

I would like to remind everyone that open carry is still legal in California.  Governor Jerry Brown has yet to sign AB 144 into law.  I urge the governor to veto this piece of legislation when it hits his desk.

And if Governor Brown does decide to sign AB 144, it is almost certain that the law will be challenged in court.  There are constitutional issues that must addressed, as well as how this law relates to the recent court ruling that the highly discriminatory "may-issue" concealed weapons permitting process in California is legal partly because open carry is also available to residents as an alternate means of carry in this state.

The fight will continue.

Adnan Shahab
President, Responsible Citizens of California

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9Feb/110

Responsible Citizens of California is Working to Stop AB 144

With the introduction of Assembly Bill 144, a bill to ban open carry, the right of law-abiding citizens to be able to carry a firearm for personal protection is, once again, being threatened by the Legislature in Sacramento.  I would like to take this opportunity to assure everybody that the Responsible Citizens of California is working diligently to defeat AB 144.  As President of the Responsible Citizens of California, I am personally involved in the direction of the organization, including strategic decision-making and planning.  While the defeat of AB 144 is RCC’s main short-term priority, we also have other long-range goals of defending the right of responsible citizens to be able to safely and conscientiously keep and bear arms.

-Adnan Shahab
President, Responsible Citizens of California

For information about the Responsible Citizens of California, please visit:
http://responsiblecitizensofcalifornia.org/

19Jan/110

AB 144 Debate Challenge

I, Adnan Shahab, publicly challenge Assemblymember Anthony Portantino, or any other member of the California Legislature who supports AB 144, to a debate on open carry and California's carry laws.  My only stipulation is that the Legislator must post video of the debate, in its entirety, on the front page of his or her official website for the entire time period ranging from 72 hours after the end of the debate until 30 days after a final vote on AB 144 is taken in the Legislature.

15Jul/100

Together we stand, divided we fall

I would like to take this opportunity to address some rumors and speculation with regards to the Responsible Citizens of California.

My name is Adnan Shahab.  I am not rich; I am not famous.  I am an average person who has to work for a living in order to pay my bills.  Just like other average people, I am in a position where I am still fighting to be heard by my government.  The fact that the government does not seem to care about the things that are important to me and is unresponsive to my concerns is one of the main reasons why I decided to run for State Assembly in California’s 20th District (Fremont, Newark, Union City, Milpitas).

Among the many things that concern me are gun rights.  As a person who holds concealed weapons permits (CCW) from multiple states, the fact that the State of California (the place where I was born, raised, and live) will not issue a CCW to me for personal protection bothers me.

At the end of 2009, I became aware that unloaded open carry is legal in California.  After learning that fact, I thoroughly researched the issue and began open carrying in my daily life.  I would much prefer to carry concealed (as I am currently authorized to do so in 32 other states), but that is not an option available to most law abiding citizens in this state.  Open carry is the only legal means that I have to be able to carry a firearm with which to protect myself if my life were to ever be put in jeopardy.

After many months of open carrying as an individual, I was approached by a group of individuals who were planning on creating a non-profit organization dedicated to carry rights.  These individuals saw that the disjointed open carry community had already reached its full potential.  It would be difficult for unorganized individuals to push for additional carry rights.  Furthermore, AB 1934, legislation introduced by Assemblymember Lori Saldana to ban open carry in California, showed that attempts were already under way to curtail carry rights even further in this state.

The group of individuals that approached me created an organization that took on the name the Responsible Citizens of California (RCC).  RCC is a privately funded organization.  RCC’s mission is to protect the right of law abiding citizens to be able to carry firearms in California and to push to expand those rights.  RCC is also dedicated to educating the public about what their rights are with regards to carrying firearms so that responsible individuals can make an informed decision as to whether they would like to carry in their private lives.

The goals of RCC and my personal goals with regards to carry laws in California are so in tune with one another that I could not turn down the opportunity to become a part of RCC from the beginning.  I sit on the Board of Directors of RCC, and I currently hold the position of RCC’s Executive Vice President.  In the next few months, I will be transitioning to the position of President of the Responsible Citizens of California.

I am in the process of stepping into the leadership position of the organization.  The future of RCC will be largely determined by my beliefs, my dedication, and my actions.  I have never undertaken such an endeavor before in my life.  I am a human being; I am not perfect.  I cannot guarantee that I will not make mistakes.  But what I can guarantee is that I will try my very best to accomplish RCC’s goals and my personal goals with regards to carry laws.

On top of my personal commitment, I enjoy the counsel and advice of some of the most prominent members of the California open carry and gun rights communities.  Most notably, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for RCC is Sam Wolanyk.  Sam and his brother Nate Wolanyk, residents of Southern California, were amongst the first people to bring open carry to prominence in the State of California.

One of my first major goals (beyond defeating AB 1934 and its imminent threat to legal open carry) is to unite all of the open carry groups in California.  There is a motto that goes “Together we stand, divided we fall.”  I wholeheartedly believe in this motto.  I feel that everyone who believes in the Second Amendment, in gun rights, and in the right to carry a firearm for personal protection needs to work with each other to ensure that our rights are respected by the government.  Only by working together will we be able to make sure that our rights are not stripped away from us and trampled upon.  No one single person can do everything on his or her own.  But together, we can move mountains.

And once our rights are secured, we can then move forward to acquire the additional rights that law abiding citizens in other states, rightfully so, already enjoy.  The Responsible Citizens of California will be the organization that will be at the tip of the spear fighting to secure those rights.  I ask everyone to please rally with us.

http://responsiblecitizensofcalifornia.org/

1Jun/101

Open Carry, AB 1934, and Responsible Citizens of California

When I first became aware that Assemblywoman Lori Saldana (D-San Diego) was planning to create a new law to ban the open carry of unloaded forearms in the State of California, one of my first reactions was to attempt to personally reach out and speak with her.  After all, I was not only one of the leading advocates of open carry in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I was also a candidate for the California State Assembly.

I called Saldana’s various offices numerous times and let her staff know that I was interested in speaking with her about the legislation she was crafting.  I let her staff know that I was concerned that Saldana might not have all of the facts about open carry and that I wanted to make sure she fully understood the issue before introducing any legislation that could affect open carry.  Over the course of a few weeks, it got to the point where almost every member of her staff knew exactly who I was when I called, and they all assured me that Saldana would speak with me as soon as she had a moment in her hectic schedule.

I never wound up getting a call from Saldana.  Needless to say, I was a bit taken aback when I was contacted by a local television news reporter and informed that Saldana was planning on holding a press conference the next morning to talk about the legislation that she would be introducing to ban open carry in California.  That piece of legislation is AB 1934.

After seeing media coverage of Saldana’s press conference, it was quite obvious that she had introduced her legislation without completely understanding open carry.  Saldana appeared to be under the impression that open carriers were some sort of a fringe group that was simply interested in demonstrating their right to carry firearms.  She seemed to believe it was more of a First Amendment issue rather than a Second Amendment issue.

Admittedly, there are some open carriers who seem to want to exercise their right to bear arms as a statement against an overreaching government and a display of a willingness to fight to keep one’s rights.  But this characterizes the intention of a very small portion of those who open carry.  Various media reports of gatherings or “meetups” of open carriers described the events as “protests” or “demonstration”.  Terminology such as this mischaracterizes the true intentions of most of carriers.

Most of the people who open carry do so simply because they want to be equipped to be able to properly defend themselves if their life or the life of anyone in their immediate vicinity were to ever be put in danger.  These are law-abiding citizens who go out of their way to remain in compliance with the law.  One can never know when they are about to become a victim of a violent crime.  Open carriers realize that if their life is put in danger, the odds are that a law enforcement officer will not be around.  And especially considering the recent budget cuts and reduced staffing levels of law enforcement agencies throughout the state, it could take a very long time before any peace officer arrived at the scene of a crime.  By then, the perpetrator will be long gone, and the victim could be dead or seriously wounded.  Open carriers realize that there is a very real chance that they will have to fend for themselves if a criminal ever decided to put them in danger of grave harm.

At her press conference, Saldana cited the fact that there have been open carry meetups throughout the state, at which large numbers of open carriers gathered in public locations, such as beaches, coffee shops, and restaurants.  She seemed to insiunuate that open carriers did so in order to intimidate people.  This left me wondering a couple of things.  Who exactly did Saldana think the open carriers were trying to intimidate?  And what was the supposed reason for trying to intimidate people?  Of course, the entire notion of open carriers trying to intimidate people is ridiculous.  The true purpose of the open carry meetups is quite simple.  Any time people develop a common interest in something, it is only natural for those people to want to get together to meet with each other and discuss their experiences.  The meetups also gave people who were new to the idea of open carry an opportunity to meet face-to-face with the more experienced open carriers and get firsthand advice on what to expect from both the general public and law enforcement while open carrying.  And there is also an education aspect to the meetups.  Open carriers meeting in groups often carry informational pamphlets detailing various aspects of the law with them.  Members of the general public, seeing people open carrying, naturally have a lot of questions, and open carriers are eager to share their knowledge.

Before going any further, an important point must be emphasized.  The open carry movement does not revolve around group meetups.  The ideal situation is to one day have the general public and law enforcement educated enough about open carry where individual open carriers can go about their daily lives without fearing that “man with a gun” calls will be placed to local law enforcement and that the open carrier will not be confronted by law enforcement at gunpoint, proned out on the ground, and detained for doing absolutely nothing against the law.  But it is the fear that such situations can occur that makes it easier for new open carriers to do so at meetups, in the company of knowledgeable friends, at first.

Saldana’s press conference also seemed to indicate that open carriers somehow pose a risk to public safety.  She showed a supposedly informative video in which an actor placed a loaded magazine into an unloaded firearm in a matter of seconds, making the gun ready to fire.  Again, this emphasis on her part clearly showed that Saldana did not understand the goal of open carriers.  A citizen who is open carrying for self-protection wants to be able to load the firearm and have it ready to use for self-defense in a short period of time.  After all, an unloaded firearm is not very useful.  Interestingly, California is one of 43 states that currently allows for the open carry of firearms, but it is the only state in which the openly carried firearm must be unloaded.  That load condition leaves the citizens of California in a more vulnerable position than open carriers in other states.  So, the very thing that Saldana tried to cite as a danger to public safety, being able to load one’s firearm quickly in order to defend oneself, is something that is necessary for self-protection.  She was completely clueless as to what she was talking about.

Various pro-gun and anti-gun groups can start make a person’s head spin by citing countless studies and anecdotal evidence suggesting that carrying a firearm makes either an individual or society as a whole more or less safe.  But the fact remains that open carry is not a new right.  Open carry has been legal for decades, and there is not a single example of an open carrier in California being involved in any sort of gun-related accident where upon society was put in danger.

The California Constitution states “the United States Constitution if the supreme law of the land.”  The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution state that the natural “right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  Article I, Section 1 of the California Constitution also states that all people have certain inalienable rights, and among these are “enjoying and defending life and liberty”, as well as “pursuing and obtaining safety”.  That is exactly why open carriers believe wholeheartedly in their right to carry firearms for self-protection.

If AB 1934 becomes law, the right of most people to carry a firearm for self-protection in California will disappear.  For those who argue that concealed carry is a viable alternative to open carry, it must be clearly stated that California’s system of issuing concealed weapons permits makes it almost impossible for an average citizens to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm.  In most of the heavily populated counties of California, unless one is rich, famous, and/or well-connected politically, one will be found to not have “good cause” to warrant being issued a concealed weapons permit.  Thus, if open carry becomes illegal in California, then the right to carry a firearm will, in effect, be taken away from all but the most elite of California’s citizens.  That is not equal treatment under the law.

Laws are already on the books restricting who is allowed to open carry.  Convicted felons, those with restraining orders against them, known gang members, and those intending to commit a crime are not allowed to open carry.  The current penal code authorizes peace officers the authority to examine a firearm to verify that it is unloaded.  Anybody who is not authorized to open carry would be foolish to attempt to do so as the additional scrutiny by law enforcement caused by openly carrying, as well as the authorized interaction with open carriers written into the penal code, would leave unauthorized open carriers susceptible to being found in violation of the law.  A criminal who intends to maintain the element of surprise when confronting a potential victim will most likely illegally carry a concealed firearm instead of open carrying.

It is the illegally concealed firearms that are carried by criminals that should continue to worry law enforcement and the general public at all times, not the firearms that are openly carried for personal protection by law-abiding citizens who go out of their way to remain in compliance with the law.  No matter what laws are passed, the criminals will continue to carry illegally.  Laws restricting law-abiding citizens from being able to carry firearms will only serve to make the common man an easier target for violent criminals.

It is also important to note that Saldana has claimed that open carriers cause a drain on limited law enforcement resources.  Penal code section 12031(e) authorizes peace officers to inspect the load condition of an openly carried firearm, but it does not mandate the inspection.  As more and more people in society become educated about California’s open carry laws, there will be fewer calls to law enforcement about open carriers.  As police dispatchers are trained to ask pertinent questions when “man with a gun” calls come in, law enforcement resources will not be misallocated to deal with situations that do not warrant any action.  For example, if a person is brandishing a firearm or acting in a threatening manner (which are both already against the law), then law enforcement should clearly be dispatched to the scene.  But if an open carrier is simply sipping on a cup of coffee while reading a newspaper, then there is absolutely no need to dispatch law enforcement to deal with the person.  Law enforcement in 43 other states is perfectly capable of responding (or not responding) to open carriers based on the totality of the situation.  Why would anyone assume that officers in California are any less capable than the officers in the other states to do the same?

Some will argue that the mere presence of gun is a threat to officer safety.  This is more of an emotional reaction than a rational one.  There is nothing inherent about law-abiding citizens openly carrying firearms that poses an additional threat to officer safety.  A properly trained officer should approach any situation with caution, as they never know who the criminal with an illegally concealed weapon might be.  In fact, I have personally heard from numerous officers in other states who say that they do not see open carry much of an issue at all.  They are accustomed to it.  It is simply a matter of training.  In California, many officers are trained to immediately recognize a gun as a threat and go into crisis mode, no matter how the individual is behaving.  This leaves the officer with little ability to use common sense to evaluate the situation.  Officers in other states are trained quite differently.  There is no reason why law enforcement officers in California cannot be trained in the same way as the officers in the other 43 states where open carry is legal.

Eventually, the question of open carry comes down to whether the government should be in the habit of taking away inalienable rights from the people.  As stated before, open carry is an old right, not a new one.  Should the government be allowed to take that right away from the people?  I would argue that the answer is a resounding “no”.  Allow each law abiding citizen to continue to have the choice to decide whether he or she wishes to carry a firearm for personal protection.  The people should be trusted by the government to behave in a responsible manner and do the right thing.  But of course, with rights come responsibility.  Any person who behaves irresponsibly with a firearm should be willing to face the consequences of doing so.

A few weeks ago, after open carrying for months, I was approached by a group of concerned citizens who felt that it was time for the open carry movement to become more organized.  Galvanized by Lori Saldana’s anti-open carry AB 1934, this brand new non-profit group, the Responsible Citizens of California (http://www.responsiblecitizensofcalifornia.org), asked me to become a major part of their organization.  This organization is dedicated to defending open carry rights and pushing for shall-issue concealed carry permits in California.  Already pressed for time due to my campaign for State Assembly and my full-time regular job, I was at first reluctant to take on the additional duties and commitments of this non-profit organization.  But after thinking about it and realizing that my personal beliefs line up perfectly with those of the Responsible Citizens of California, I agreed to become a member of their Board of Directors.  Additionally, I have been named the Executive Vice President of the Responsible Citizens of California.  I look forward to continuing to push for carry rights in California with the Responsible Citizens of California.

And, so, here we are.  AB 1934 is slowly but surely making its way through the California Legislature.  It has passed in both the Assembly Public Safety Committee and the Assembly Appropriations Committee on a party-line vote, with the Democrats supporting it and the Republicans voting against it.  AB 1934 could come up before a vote on the Assembly floor any day now.  I have no idea what will happen.  But I intend to fight against AB 1934 and defend the right of law abiding citizens to carry firearms for personal protection in the State of California.

Now, as an open carry advocate and State Assembly candidate, I have been asked by the Commonwealth Club to take part in a debate on open carry.  The debate will take place on June 17 in Lafayette, California (http://tickets.commonwealthclub.org/auto_choose_ga.asp?area=171&shcode=1850).  After agreeing to participate in the debate, I was informed that Assemblywoman Lori Saldana will also be taking part in the debate.  After months of trying to sit down with her to discuss the issue of open carry, I will finally have my chance to prove that she is on the wrong side of this issue.  I am definitely looking forward to it.

Adnan Shahab is a candidate for State Assembly is California’s 20th District.  You can visit his official campaign website at http://www.shahab2010.com

16May/100

California Unloaded Open Carry – May 16, 2010

Back on March 26, I ran into Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley at a political function that I was attending as a candidate for State Assembly.  I introduced myself to her and told her that I was an advocate for unloaded open carry.  I also told her that I was interested in sitting down with her and talking about some issues that are relevant to open carriers.  O’Malley told me that she had just had a meeting with some law enforcement agencies about the issue and would be happy to set up a meeting with me to discuss my concerns.

After weeks of trying to hash out a meeting date and time (both O’Malley and I have very busy schedules), we were finally able to settle on May 17 at 10AM at her office in Oakland.  My whole goal was to discuss the current laws with regards to open carry, ignoring the very existence of AB 1934 (which would ban open carry in public in California).

As luck would have it, both O’Malley and I were asked to speak at a candidates forum in Union City this afternoon.  (O’Malley is running unopposed for District Attorney, and I am running unopposed for the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the 20th District).  Before the event began, I went over to O’Malley to remind her of our meeting tomorrow and deliver some questions that I wanted to get answers to.  Before I said anything, she reminded me about the meeting.  Clearly, she remembered.  As luck would have it, she told me that she was in no rush whatsoever this afternoon, and she said we could probably just have our meeting after the candidates forum.  That would save both of us time and effort in the morning.  Awesome.  That way I could sleep in a little later tomorrow morning.

After O’Malley and I both addressed the crowd, the debate between candidates for Alameda County Superior Court Judge began.  It was a complete joke, with all three candidates showing the audience exactly why none of them deserved to be elected judge.  I went outside to the lobby and O’Malley and I started our conversation about open carry.  O’Malley unabashedly informed me that she was completely anti-gun.  I informed her that the law is the law, and she had to abide by the law, regardless of her personal opinions.  She acknowledged that, and we continued.

The first issue that I brought up was with regards to what was considered to be a “concealed” firearm.  Specifically, I was asking about the provision of California Penal Code 12025 that states, “Firearms carried openly in belt holsters are not concealed within the meaning of this section.”  I explained that I read this provision to be an example of how a firearm can be openly carried, not the exclusive way that a firearm must be openly carried.  In other words, I believe that one may legally openly carry a firearm in a holster that is not on one’s belt.  For example, I believe that one can legally open carry in California in a shoulder holster or a thigh holster.  O’Malley told me that she understands it the same way that I do and that shoulder holsters and thigh holsters are a legal means to unloaded open carry.  It was great to get confirmation about this from the person who is in charge of the office that would be responsible for deciding whether a person gets charged for illegally carrying a concealed weapon in Alameda County.

The next issue that I brought up was with regards to the court decision of People v. Hale, which considered a loaded magazine to be an “essential component” of the firearm.  It is my contention that this is bad case law.  Furthermore, I would argue that, since I open carry with an unloaded magazine inserted in my firearm, that unloaded magazine completes the firearm.  Thus, any spare magazines that I carry on my person, whether loaded or unloaded, are not an essential components of the already complete firearm.  O’Malley told me that she interpreted the law the same way that I did.  She specifically told me that she saw no illegality in carrying a loaded magazine in one’s pocket or in a magazine pouch that is closed on top.  At this point, I was pretty happy with how O’Malley was positioning the District Attorney’s Office on the issue of unloaded open carry.

But then things went downhill very fast.  I asked how she saw the difference between “carrying” vs. “transporting” a firearm.  I asked whether, assuming that one does not drive through a restricted area, such as a gun free school zone, it is legal to drive while open carrying.  O’Malley had no answer for me on this.  She said she hasn’t looked at the relevant penal codes and that she would have to look at all the facts of any particular case that came up.  It’s pretty frustrating when the person whose office is in charge of prosecuting people is unwilling to let a citizen know how they interpret the legality of something.

And then we got to the most frustrating issue.  With regards to Penal Code 626.9, I asked how the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office would interpret the “reasonably should know” provision pertaining to guns not being allowed within 1,000 feet of the grounds of any K-12 school.  I asked whether a reasonable person could be expected to know whether they were 950 feet away versus 1,000 feet away from a school.  O’Malley didn’t hesitate to say that she feels citizens are responsible for knowing exactly where the 1,000 foot demarcation is.  I expressed that I felt it was completely unreasonable to expect such a thing from citizens.  When I brought up the issue that I contacted the City of Fremont and was told that they didn’t have any maps indicating gun free school zones, she didn’t seem to care.  And then when I told her that the Fremont Police Department finally decided to create such a map, but that map was incomplete, O’Malley still didn’t seem to care.  O’Malley believes that it is the duty of the citizen to know where each and every K-12 school is located and where the 1,000 foot boundary from their grounds lies.  She doesn’t seem to think the verbage “reasonably should know” means anything.  Apparently, Alameda County’s District Attorney had a difficult time parsing words.

O’Malley and I then conversed about the whole overarching issue of open carry and responsiveness of the government to questions raised by open carriers.  I told her how frustrating it is for an open carrier such as myself, who goes to extreme lengths to try to remain within the boundaries of the law, to not receive answers from government officials as to exactly what is and is not legal.  I told her that I don’t want to have to be a test case that goes to trial in order to get clarification on something.  O’Malley told me that that’s how the system works, and she sees absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Unless a test case goes to trial, open carriers will not get definitive black and white answers on some of the issues.  She said that her office generally tries to look at all the facts and the totality of the situation when deciding whether to charge a person in a case.  Another interesting thing is that O’Malley mentioned that whether charges are pressed depends on who a person is.  She cited an example of where a person might be trying to push or test the boundaries of the law.  It’s disturbing to hear that the Alameda County District Attorney admitted that, even under the exact same set of circumstances, exactly who a person is will influence whether that person gets charged with a crime or not.  I thought justice was supposed to be blind.  Silly me.

After our conversation was over, I returned to the auditorium to find that the candidates for Alameda County Supervisor in District 2 had started their debate.  All four of them were a complete joke.  I have decided to simply not vote for any of the candidates for Superior Court Judge or Alameda County Supervisor.  None of the seven candidates are any good.  Too bad nobody decided to run against Nancy O’Malley for Alameda County District Attorney.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

20Apr/102

AB 1934

I have been in a foul mood since this afternoon.  I’ll get to the reason why in a little bit.

About one year ago, I decided to run for the California State Assembly.  Over the last few years, it became increasingly apparent to me that there are people in this country who do not believe in the same sort of United States that I believe in.  Many people do not seem to believe in things like the United State Constitution, thinking that the words contained in that contract between the government and the people do not really mean much of anything.  There are also those who believe that the government is infinitely wise.  These people seem to think that we should continue to give up more of our individuals liberties to the all-knowing government and allow our elected officials to behave as wise parental figures.

Well, I believe the United States Constitution actually means something.  I value it, and I respect it.  It is a travesty that so many elected officials, all of whom swear allegiance to the Constitution when they take office, do not take the Constitution seriously.  I also believe in a limited government.  I had a father.  He passed away in 2007, and he was a great man.  I have a mother, and she is a great woman.  I do not need, nor do I want, the government to try to act like it is wiser than me and can tell me what to do.  I refuse to surrender my rights to the government.

I started noticing how our elected officials in Sacramento continued to be passing laws that did not make any sort of sense.  The tendency was to continue to impose more restrictions on the behavior of the citizens.  On top of that, these elected officials had a nasty tendency to want to raise taxes and fees whenever they could.  In effect, they were taking away our rights and our money, and they felt that they, in their wisdom, could decide which rights we should be able to continue to enjoy and what our money should be spent on.

All of this seemed insane to me.  Fed up with seeing what was going on, I decided to run for State Assembly.  I was tired of simply being upset; I wanted to fix the problem.  If the people in Sacramento were doing things in the wrong way, I wanted to go to state Capitol and start doing things the right way.

Then we got around to the issue of unloaded open carry (UOC).  In the State of California, it is virtually impossible for most average citizens to obtain concealed weapons permits (CCW).  In most heavily populated counties, unless a person is rich, famous, and/or well-connected, the ability to carry a concealed firearm in order to protect oneself is denied by the government.  Before I go any further, I want to stress the point that the police are not always around.  If your life is put in jeopardy, it could be minutes or hours until the police arrive.  The only person you can depend on to protect you when you need it is yourself.

About five years ago, I applied for a CCW in Alameda County, and I was denied by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.  In the intervening years, I have applied for non-resident CCWs from other states, even traveling outside of California in order to train and pass their licensing procedures.  As a result, I am currently allowed to legally carry a concealed firearm in 32 states.  And yet California, the state that I was born and raised in, and the state where I spend the vast majority of my time in, denies me the right to carry a concealed weapon to protect myself with.  The fact remains that, because of the amount of time that I spend in California, if my life were to ever be put in danger, it would most likely occur in California.  But my state government has taken the right to defend myself with a concealed weapon away from me.  It isn’t right, but it’s reality in California.

Then last December, I became aware of the fact that the unloaded open carry of firearms was legal in California, as long as one does not do so in certain restricted areas (e.g. within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school, in government buildings, etc.).  As long as a person is not in a restricted category (e.g. not a gang member, no restraining orders against them, no intention to commit a crime), law-abiding citizens are allowed to carry ammunition for that firearm on their persons, thus allowing the individual to be able to protect him or herself if the situation were to ever arise.  Speaking for myself, I viewed unloaded open carry as an inferior means of self defense as compared to concealed carry.  But concealed carry was not available to me, so I looked into the only legal means that was available for me to be able to protect myself.  It was the next-best option.

After spending a month researching the intricacies of UOC, I finally tried it out with a couple of others who were interested in the issue.  And that’s where it all took off.  I quickly became one of the most visible and most outspoken advocates of UOC in California.  I can’t even remember the number of newspaper of television news interviews that I have done in the past four months.  I wanted to educate my fellow citizens about their rights.  And if they decided that they wanted to open carry, I wanted to make sure they did so in full compliance with the law.

Sure, there were some who did not like the idea of me open carrying and advocating for UOC.  Some gun owners felt that doing so would result in the State Legislature reacting by taking away the right to UOC.  To that, I argued that, if we had to refrain from open carrying in order to retain the right to open carry, then we have, in effect already lost the right.  Others, including the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, tried to say that open carriers were trying to intimidate people.  That made absolutely no sense to me.  Why would I want to intimidate people?  By that logic, what did they think I was trying to accomplish by intimidating people?  If anything, I was only trying to deter criminals from looking at law-abiding citizens as easy prey.  Some tried to argue that, by the mere fact that I had a gun on my person, I was somehow endangering society.  Again, that made no sense.  The only time that firearm was going to leave its holster would be if I or someone in my immediate vicinity were facing grave bodily harm.  I am not some sort of vigilante who is looking to go out and fight crime.  I hope that I will never have to use my firearm to defend my life or the life of someone else.  I respect firearms, and I know how to properly operate them.  So, having a firearm on my person does not endanger society.  And some even tried to insist that a criminal would easily be able to take my unloaded firearm away from me and use it against me.  Well, I voluntarily agreed to meet up with law enforcement officials to allow them to inspect my firearm before certain open carry meetups.  Even while being fully compliant with them, the officers had a difficult time removing my firearm from its holster.  Imagine how difficult it would be for a criminal to take my firearm away from me if I were actually resisting.

But there’s even more insanity out there.  Some people said that criminals would start open carrying.  From a logical standpoint, that makes no sense.  Law enforcement officers in California have the right to inspect the firearm of an open carrier to ensure that it is not loaded.  By open carrying, an individual draws additional attention to oneself.  A criminal would want to maintain the element of surprise, not open themselves to intensified scrutiny.  If anything, law enforcement officers should fear the criminal who is illegally carrying a concealed weapon, not the law-abiding citizen who is openly carrying.  Then there was the argument that law enforcement officers could not tell whether an openly carried firearm was loaded or not.  The mere fact that a weapon is loaded or not does not endanger society; it is the behavior of the person in control of the firearm that matters.  Like I said before, law enforcement officers have the authority to inspect a firearm to determine whether it is loaded or not.  The argument was made that a person could easily load the firearm within two seconds.  That’s exactly the point.  Open carriers want to be able to load a firearm quickly in order to be able to defend themselves if need be.  That’s not an argument against open carry; it is merely a statement of fact as to how unloaded open carry leaves law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage to criminals.  I’d rather be at a two second disadvantage than have absolutely no tool as my disposal to defend myself with.  (For those who argue that a criminal might decide to shoot me because they see me openly carrying, that is not really an argument that I buy into.  Even if I were to get shot preemptively, which I think is highly unlikely, it is my choice to put myself in that position.  If anything, that would make everyone else around me safer because they would have extra time to evacuate the scene while the criminal was busy with me.  Realistically, though, a criminal would most likely be deterred from committing a crime if they saw an armed person who is clearly interested in protecting themself in the area)  But going back to law enforcement’s argument, they should not fear the law-abiding citizen who is open carrying any more than anyone else they might encounter.  They should approach all people with caution because they never know who the criminals with illegally concealed loaded weapons are.

Some have also argued that unloaded open carriers are an additional drain on law enforcement resources.  Penal code section 12031(e) gives law enforcement officers the authority to inspect a firearm to determine whether it is loaded; however, it is not mandatory to do so.  Properly trained police dispatchers should already be asking relevant questions.  Is the individual acting in a threatening manner?  Is the individual brandishing their firearm?  Or is the person simply sipping on some coffee and having a pleasant conversation with a group of friends?  Depending on the answers to these questions, law enforcement should be able to determine whether resources should be allocated to deal with an instance of an individual carrying a firearm openly.  Keep in mind, open carry is legal in the vast majority of the states.  Law enforcement seems to be capable of dealing with open carriers in those other states.  Why is it that law enforcement in California cannot do the same?

And so, we finally get to why I have been in a foul mood since this afternoon.  A number of weeks ago, Assemblywoman Lori Saldana (D-San Diego) introduced AB 1934, which would ban unloaded open carry in California.  Since it is virtually impossible for most citizens to obtain concealed weapons permits, passage of AB 1934 would essentially take away any legal option for law-abiding citizens to be able to carry firearms in order to protect themselves.  AB 1934 will disarm the good, honest citizens, but it will do nothing to stop criminals to continue to illegally carry concealed firearms and perpetrate heinous acts against the public.

Last week, I became aware of the fact that AB 1934 would be going before the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee today.  If four of the seven members of the PSC voted against AB 1934, the bill would be dead.  I, as well as many others, have spent the last few days rallying supporters of open carry.  We contacted the members of the PSC and voiced our opinion about how they should vote “No” on AB 1934.  Earlier today, the PSC voted 4-2 to approve AB1934.  As a result, the bill will continue to wind its way through the Assembly.  AB 1934 will next go before the Appropriations panel.  You can be sure that I, as well as many other supporters of open carry will continue to contact state lawmakers and make our voices heard.

I don’t know how any of this will turn out.  It is my hope that sanity will ultimately prevail and the Democratic-controlled Legislature will allow law-abiding citizens to be able to carry firearms in order to protect themselves.  But if we are not able to stop AB 1934, I would hope that the people of California will learn from this experience.  I want them to see how out of touch many of our elected officials are and how little they respect the rights of the average citizen.  We need to thoroughly evaluate our elected officials before they get into office, because once they’re there, they can hurt the people in many different ways.

If AB 1934 continues to move forward, I would hope that the people of California will see how much damage one single Legislator (in this case, Lori Saldana) can do.  But it can go the other way as well.  One Legislator can bring about good as well.  I hope that gun owners, not only in Assembly District 20, but throughout the state and throughout the nation, will support my campaign for State Assembly.  I hope that citizens who believe in the right to protect oneself will support my campaign for State Assembly.  I hope that people who believe in stopping the government from infringing upon our rights and dictating to us how we should live our lives will support my campaign for State Assembly.

One person can make a huge difference.  I truly believe that I can stop the damage that is going on in Sacramento.  I won’t be able to do it overnight.  California has been descending into madness for decades, and it will take many years to solve all of the problems.  But a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  I am asking the responsible members of society to help me take that first step.  Help me win my race for California State Assembly in the 20th District.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

13Feb/100

California Unloaded Open Carry – February 13, 2010

I was fortunate enough to meet up with some fellow law abiding citizens who are interested in unloaded open carry (UOC) earlier today.  We met up at a coffee shop in San Leandro.  Despite the assertions by some people that UOCing in “bad” neighborhoods would result in us being robbed of our firearms by criminals, nothing of the sort happened.  There were approximately 20 people openly carrying firearms, and there were probably around 35 people total who showed up (including family and friends).  The encouraging part revolved around a handful of people who showed up without firearms because they weren’t quite sold on the legality or details of UOCing.  But after talking with some of the more experienced UOCers for a couple hours, many of them were confident enough to say that they will definitely be openly carrying the next time we have a meetup.

Two interesting things occurred while we were at the coffee shop.  First of all, a man who was there open carrying informed me that he actually has a concealed weapons permit (CCW) issued to him by the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office.  He said he’s had it for over 10 years.  I was stunned to actually meet a real-life citizen who had been issued a CCW in a Bay Area County.  The guy (I don’t want to name him because I don’t want anybody to pressure the Sheriff to rescind his CCW) told me that the only reason he was issued a CCW was because he is friends with someone who is pretty high up in the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office.  He admits that the system is flawed and corrupt and that, if he were not friends with someone in the Sheriff’s Office, there would be no way that he would have been issued a CCW.  He told me that he was UOCing because he supported the cause.  But he said that when he gets back in his car, he is going to put away his thigh holster and carry concealed.

I had always heard stories about how one must essentially be rich, famous, and/or well-connected in order to receive a CCW from a Bay Area Sheriff.  It’s a shame to see that someone who has actually been issued such a CCW readily admits that connections are are the only reason why he was issued a CCW.  That is not the way the government is supposed to deal with things.  It is corrupt, plain and simple.  It is also a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.  We must expose these unfair practices to the light of day.

The second thing that I noticed is that I am starting to be recognized by members of the general public for my efforts to educate society about California’s unloaded open carry laws.  I mean, I can understand being recognized by people who specifically show up for the unloaded open carry meetup.  It is not a stretch to understand that these “new” open carriers may have seen some of my postings on online discussion boards or seen one of my recent interviews with local media.  These people are predisposed to UOC, so it’s natural for them to have seen me or heard about me somewhere.  But there were two different customers (one Asian male, one African-American female) at the coffee shop who had absolutely no idea that we were meeting there today and just happened to be there while we were there.  Separately, they came up to me and said they recognized me from some of the television interviews that I have done in recent weeks.  They both seemed to be very supportive of what I was doing to educate people about what their rights are.

But then I started to think about the people in the general public who have started associating me with unloaded open carry.  I want to clearly state that I am in no way whatsoever any sort of official “leader” in the open carry movement.  I am just like anyone else who is interested in exercising their right to open carry.  The open carry movement is not any sort of official organization with a power structure or anything like that.  Nobody has to clear anything with anybody else in order to open carry.  As long as you don’t violate the law (stay clear of gun free school zones, do not go into any public buildings, etc.), you should feel free to open carry whenever you want.  This is a movement of law abiding citizens being able to exercise their rights.  You don’t need any “leaders” in order to do that.

It also occurred to me that, if members of the general public are starting to recognize me, it is a natural assumption that members of law enforcement will start recognizing me as well.  I seriously hope that no law enforcement officers get any sort of notions of trying to teach me a lesson by singling me out for extra scrutiny (i.e. illegal violations of my civil rights) because of my stance on gun rights.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that various law enforcement agencies around the Bay Area have taken note of some of my online posts and media interviews.  Through a Public Records Act request made by another UOCer, I already know that some of my fellow open carriers are being closely watched by law enforcement.  It would be insane for me to believe that I am in a different position.  That’s fine.  As long as they stay within the law, I have no problem with law enforcement monitoring my actions.  But if any LEO begins specifically targeting me for any statements that I have made with regards to the unfair issuance of CCWs in California, my view on the thinly veiled threats to the lives of UOCers made by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, my respone to the comments made by the East Palo Alto Police detective who threatened to harass and shoot UOCers, or for any other political reason, I will not simply lay down and take it.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

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