AdnanShahab.com

7Feb/103

California Unloaded Open Carry – February 7, 2010

With regards to my current interest in unloaded open carry, the last few weeks have been interesting.  I have been contacted by numerous television stations and newspapers for interviews regarding unloaded open carry and the attempts by the Brady Campaign to strong arm businesses into banning law-abiding citizens from exercising their legal right to openly carry an unloaded firearm in their establishments.  Thus far, Starbucks has stood strong, vowing to abide by federal, state, and local laws.  California Pizza Kitchen and Peet’s Coffee have bowed to the pressure from the Brady Campaign and have banned legal UOCers from exercising their rights in the stores.

I am a firm believer in property rights.  I understand that it is fully legal for stores to create policies to control who enters their stores.  But I would also like to point out that there is a limit to the extent that this can be done.  I would argue that companies are not legally allowed to ban people of a certain race or sexual orientation from entering their establishments.  Also, if a company were to bar people with tattoos, piercings, or certain hair stylings, I believe that businesses would be treading on thin ice.  As in the case that people with exposed firearms on their persons might possibly make other customers uncomfortable, the same could be said in all of these other scenarios as well.  The question then comes down to exactly where the line gets drawn between looking out for the comfort level of certain patrons versus the rights of others, who are not breaking the law in any manner whatsoever, to enter a business.

A couple other things have developed as well.  On January 14, Lt. Ray Lunny of the San Mateo Sheriff’s Office issued a press release with regards to unloaded open carry (http://www.co.sanmateo.ca.us/Attachments/sheriffs/pdfs/Press%20Releases/20100114_opencarry.pdf).  At the bottom of that memo, Lunny included a “Caution” section.  That Caution section reads:

CAUTION
Open carry advocates create a potentially very dangerous situation. When police are called to a “man with a gun” call they typically are responding to a situation about which they have few details other than that one or more people are present at a location and are armed. Officers may have no idea that these people are simply “exercising their rights.” Consequently, the law enforcement response is one of “hypervigilant urgency” in order to protect the public from an armed threat. Should the gun carrying person fail to comply with a law enforcement instruction or move in a way that could be construed as threatening, the police are forced to respond in kind for their own protection. It’s well and good in hindsight to say the gun carrier was simply “exercising their rights” but the result could be deadly. Simply put, it is not recommended to openly carry firearms.

First of all, I do not necessarily believe that it is appropriate for law enforcement agencies to make recommendations to the public on what citizens should and should not do.  The Legislature and other elected bodies are charged with making the laws.  Law enforcement has a duty to enforce the laws.  When law enforcement feels that they can start deciding which rights that citizens are and are not allowed to maintain, that is a dangerous situation.  It is a slippery slope that cannot lead to a positive end result.

Secondly, a close reading of the Lunny’s Caution section shows that his agency is advising officers to respond to law-abiding open carriers with “hypervigilant urgency”.  This is fancy code for telling officers to draw their weapons on unloaded open carriers, without any regards for how the person is acting.  If the open carrier were acting in any sort of combative or threatening manner or brandishing their firearm (which is illegal), then such “hyperigilant” responses by law enforcement would be appropriate.  But the mere presence of a gun on a person who is acting calmly and not doing anything illegal does not warrant having officers draw their weapons on that person.  Doing so significantly increases the chances of the officer accidentally discharging his or her weapon, causing grave bodily harm to the open carrier.  By stating that “Should the gun carrying person fail to comply with a law enforcement instruction or move in a way that could be construed as threatening, the police are forced to respond in kind for their protection”, Lunny is basically authorizing officers to shoot any open carrier who does not hear or who misinterprets any instruction by an officer.  And the part about open carriers making any move that could be construed as threatening seems to grant officers permission wide discretion in determining whether to shoot an open carrier.

All of this is going way too far on the part of law enforcement, which is attempting to hide behind notions of “officer safety”.  Claims of officer safety should not give law enforcement the right to willfully violate the civil rights of law-abiding citizens who are doing absolutely nothing wrong.  To think that an officer in the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office feels that it is okay to shoot law-abiding citizens is outrageous.

Lest people start to believe that I am misinterpreting Lt. Lunny’s press release and that this is just an isolated incident, I would like to remind everyone that I was told that Union City Police Department is advising all of its officers to approach all unloaded open carriers with their guns drawn and to prone to open carriers out, regardless of how the individual is behaving.  This is not common sense.  But it goes even further than that.

On February 7, I became aware of a Detective in East Palo Alto who made some posts on Facebook regarding unloaded open carry (http://kevinthomason.blogspot.com/2010/02/local-cop-advocates-shooting-law.html).  This cop gloated about harassing a law-abiding open carrier last week by proning him out and giving him a “reminder” of things.  He then shockingly made an off-hand remark about how, once they have open carriers proned out, if the officers were to shoot an open carrier, they would get rewarded with a 2-week vacation from their department.  And to add insult to injury, he claimed that others should laugh at open carriers because “they can only dream to have a ccw.”

In the past, I have always been supportive of law enforcement.  Until I began open carrying, my interactions with law enforcement were quite limited and generally positive for the most part.  Whenever a news story would arise about officers going too far or about a rogue officer doing something inappropriate, I would always chalk it up to that being an isolated case and be comfortable in the feeling that the vast majority of law enforcement officers were good people who were on my side and were out there to protect me.  But now that I see officers behaving in such ways with regards to unloaded open carry, which is completely legal in California, perhaps it’s time for me to start re-evaluating exactly who law enforcement is really out there looking after.  Unfortunately, I am starting to get that feeling that they are not looking out for law-abiding citizens such as me.  Perhaps they are only looking out for themselves.  And that is very disappointing.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

14Jan/100

California Unloaded Open Carry – January 14, 2010

It has finally happened.  My research into issues dealing with unloaded open carry (UOC) has finally reached a point where the incompetence built into the system is preventing me from getting the information that I am looking for.

Growing up, I was always told that the police and law enforcement is there to help the people.  Many times, in television and in movies, I was told that the police is there to “protect and serve” (thanks, LAPD) the people.  I have always touted the virtues of law enforcement, and I have been an outspoken supporter of police departments around the country.

A few days ago, a person who I had recently met posted information that he had obtained from the Sunnyvale Police Department (SPD) regarding UOC via a Public Records Act request.  Amongst the voluminous pages of documents that he had procured, I became aware of the fact that the SPD had created a map indicating where all the school zones are located within that city and clearly indicating the 1,000 foot perimeters surrounding each school.  The map is basically a comprehensive school zone map, in which it is illegal to carry a firearm (California Penal Code 626.9), created by the SPD.

A couple weeks ago, before I found out about the SPD map, I had contacted the Fremont Police Department inquiring as to whether they such a map existed for the school zones in Fremont.  Fremont Police Department’s Chief Craig Steckler wrote me back, stating that Fremont did not have such a map.  He suggested that I check with a couple other agencies within the city to see if they had the kind of map that I was looking for.  I contacted those agencies, and I was told that no such map exists.

After learning that the SPD had created such a map, I once again e-mailed Chief Steckler with the FPD.  I also sent copies of the same message to the police chiefs of the cities of Newark, Union City, and Milpitas.  Basically, I informed them that I am a law-abiding citizen, and I do not want to accidentally violate PC 626.9.  I informed them that I have made an effort to find a map that clearly indicates all gun free school zones, and I was not able to do so.  All of the maps that I have found are either incomplete and/or inaccurate with regards to the locations of each and every K-12 school in Fremont, and I have been unable to locate any maps that indicate the 1,000 foot perimeters surrounding each school.  As an individual, I do not have the ability to survey every inch of Fremont (or Newark, Union City, and Milpitas) to create a school zone map on my own.  I informed them that, therefore, it is virtually impossible for me to “know” or “reasonably” know (referencing the language of PC 626.9) where every school zone is.  I also informed the police chiefs that the SPD has the technology to create a map that shows the school zones.  I then asked whether these police chiefs would be willing, with all the resources that are at their disposal due to taxpayer money, to create a gun free school zone map for each of their cities and make those maps available to the public so that law-abiding citizens can avoid accidentally violating PC 626.9.  This e-mail was sent out on January 6, 2010.

On January 7, I received a message from Chief Greg Stewart of the Union City Police Department.  He included a map of Union City that appears to have been created back in 2007.  This “sensitive uses” map includes schools, churches, day cares, etc. around which there is concern about selling tobacco products.  The map is pretty much useless to me because it does not indicate which areas on the map are K-12 school, and thus relevant to gun free school zones, and which areas are totally irrelevant with regards to PC 626.9.  (On a side note, the map is hilarious because, if you lay the 1,000 foot radius around all of the “sensitive uses” areas on the map, the entire map basically becomes covered.  So, apparently, it is very difficult to sell tobacco products in Union City.)  Chief Stewart then went on to say that UCPD does not have a map specifically dealing with school zones only, is under no obligation to create such a map (which I agree with), and that they do not intend to use “sparse staff resources” to create such a map because they feel it is up to the individual to figure out the school zones on their own.  (I wonder what all of their “sparse staff resources” are being wasted on.)  So much for UCPD attempting to help the citizens out in any way whatsoever.  Apparently, they seem to be highly resistant to the notion of helping people get information and educate themselves so that they can avoid violating the law in the first place.

I responded to Chief Stewart’s message by asking him whether Union City simply abides by California state law with regards to UOC or whether there are additional municipal ordinances piled on top of state law.  I still have not received any response to that inquiry.

Then on January 11, I received an e-mail from Sheila Harrington, the City Clerk of the City of Newark.  Apparently, my message to Newark’s police chief had been forwarded to her.  She informed me that Newark had no school zone map.  The really interesting thing is that she informed me that the Public Records Act does not require the Police Department to create new records.  The reason that this is interesting is because she decided to bring up this fact completely on her own.  At no point in my original message did I insinuate that I believed the Public Records Act required to creation of a map.  In fact, I wasn’t even making an official Public Records Act request.  I had simply asked whether they had any plans to create a school zone map.  This leads me to believe that Ms. Harrington either decided to inform me about something I did not ask about or she had a problem reading my original message.  In either case, I am not impressed with Ms. Harrington’s ability to answer an inquiry directly and remain on-message.  Ms. Harrington then concluded her response by suggesting that I contact the Newark Unified School District and the Newark Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a map such as the one I am looking for.  Assuming they have the same sorts of information as groups in Fremont have, I’m not holding my breath on that.  In any case, I guess the Newark Police Department doesn’t want to have to even bother with answering my questions.  I have now sent an inquiry to Ms. Harrington as to whether Newark has any municipal ordinance with regards to UOC.  Watch Commander Milner already informed me that they do not, but I figure it won’t hurt for me to double check with the City Clerk.

Following the UOC meetup that I attended in Livermore On January 2, the Contra Costa Times wrote an article about the event (http://www.contracostatimes.com/top-stories/ci_14121268).  In the article, Livermore police Lt. Lance Bye said that “it is not the police department’s job to make opinions, but to enforce the law.”  Bye is then quoted as saying, “We do understand and view it as a legal act... The fact people may disagree with it is inconsequential.”  It is interesting that Lt. Bye would say something like that with regards to Livermore.  It appears that, in the area where I live, I seem to be getting a lot of attitude and evasiveness from law enforcement with regards to UOC.  That is not the spirit of helpfulness that I was brought up to believe that I could expect to receive from the police.  And quite honestly, it is very disappointing to see how far reality has strayed from the idealistic image I once had of law enforcement.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

5Jan/100

What You See Is What You Get

A few days ago, I posted a blog entry detailing an unloaded open carry (UOC) meetup that I attended in Livermore.  Over the last month, I have heard from a number of gun rights advocates regarding my candidacy for California State Assembly and my position that there is nothing wrong with exercising my right to UOC.  Many people readily supported my position.  At the same time, I have heard from a number of people who suggested that I do not UOC until my campaign is over.

A few of the people who advised against me UOCing were more interested in the overall fight for gun rights throughout the state and the nation than in my individual campaign.  They wanted me to hold off on stirring the pot until the guns rights movement got some favorable court rulings in some notable pending court cases.  Their fear is that legislators, reacting to public reaction to me UOCing, may decide to try to enact even harsher gun laws in the near future.  To those who hold that opinion, I feel you give me far too much credit.  There are many people already UOCing throughout California and in the Bay Area.  I am not doing anything that legislators do not already know about.  We have seen in the past that bad legislators have a tendency to enact bad laws whenever they feel like doing so.  I highly doubt that me UOCing will be that final straw that causes them to act.  And even if they did, I would be sure to bring as much public attention and media scrutiny to that legislative action as possible so that the people in California could see what jokes their current elected officials are.

Then there were those who advised against me UOCing because they were afraid that doing so in the liberal Bay Area will hurt my chances of winning my election.  They understand that, if I manage to win my election, they will have an ally in Sacramento who is looking out for the same interests that are important to them.  They want me to win the election at all costs, even if it means holding my tongue for the moment.  They feel that I will scare off many potential voters who might see my actions as being far too radical.  Well, I am all about shedding light on how our current system of law enforcement treats law-abiding citizens as if we are the criminals.  I am all about educating the public about what is legal and what is not legal, and UOCing is legal in California.  I am also all about communicating with voters who have misconceptions about what it means to be a conservative.  If me exercising my right to UOC is seen as being a provocative action that sheds light on my campaign, that is fine with me.  If that happens, I will use that opportunity to open up a dialogue with the voters and show them who I really am.  I will work to clearly explain to them what I stand for, why I am superior to other candidates running for Assembly District 20, and why they should vote for me.

In response to my blog entry from a few days ago, somebody posted a comment expressing his concerns (and the concerns of others) about me UOCing in the liberal Bay Area hurting my election chances.  I typed up a very rough and quick response to him.  Now, looking back at my response, it seems to be a shame to have it buried in the comments section of my blog, where not many people will see it.  I want to end this blog entry by reposting the response that I made the other day:

The comment section of my blog is not really the proper place for me to give a full explanation regarding my thinking on this. A very rough synopsis would go something like this:

For years, the people in the Bay Area have been blindly electing officials into office simply because they have “Democrat” printed next to their name on the ballot. Many registered voters probably wouldn’t be able to tell you who their elected officials are, much less the positions that those officials take on the issues. There are also many Bay Area voters who will not vote for a candidate simply because he or she has “Republican” printed next to their name on the ballot. But if you were to sit down and question many of those voters about what a certain Republican candidate stands for (or Republicans in general), you will hear a lot of misconceptions. This is a sad state of affairs.

The only way that we are going to be able to break out of this cycle of ignorance among voters and ineptitude in Bay Area politics is to have a candidate who is willing to cut thorough the bull and speak up loud and proud about what he or she stands for. In a perfect world, voters would choose their candidates based on their individual stances on the issues and the content of their character, not because of party affiliation. Hell, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t even need political parties at all because the electorate would simply choose the best candidate, period.

So far, my campaign doesn’t have a lot of money, which makes it difficult for me to get my message out to the voters. But I am willing to put in the hard work to try to communicate with as many people as possible. People who have an opportunity to meet me in person understand that I am not your average person. I cannot be stereotyped or pigeonholed. There is nothing inherently special about me that makes me better than any other person, but I am unique in ways that make me superior to other candidates in the region.

I believe in being forthright with the voters on who I am and what I stand for. I am not trying to play any sort of games by telling people what they want to hear. That is part of the beauty of this blog. It gives people the opportunity to take a more in-depth look at the way that my mind works. I am telling people what I truly believe in and giving them the opportunity to judge me on my position on the issues and on the content of my character. When people vote for me, they will know exactly who they are going to get representing them in Sacramento. I will not be one person on the campaign trail and a quite different person once I am in office.

I challenge the voters to look at the other candidates for Assembly District 20. They will find politicians who are trying to say as little as possible because they don’t want to ruffle any feathers. They want to be able to solicit campaign contributions from as many people as they possibly can. They want to be able to tailor their positions on the issues to do what is politically expedient for them at any given moment. Basically, they are people who are not willing to take a stand on the tough issues. Whether this is because of a lack of a comprehensive vision on exactly what role government should have in society and how it should interact with citizens or whether it is due to a lack of backbone and personal fortitude on the part of those candidates is up for debate. Either way, it doesn’t speak well for those candidates. Is that really the kind of person who voters want representing them in government? It hasn’t worked for the last few decades.

I have heard insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, the people of the Bay Area have continued to elect the same type of people into office year after year. These voters have to ask themselves whether their past actions have gotten them a government that resembles the government that they would like in any shape or form whatsoever. If not, it’s time to try something new.

Many people complain about corruption in government and dishonest politicians. Well, that is not something that people will have to worry about with me. I am going to flat out tell people who I am. I will give them insight into my vision of government and society. If people like what I stand for, they should vote for me. If people want an honest person representing them in government, they should vote for me. If people are unhappy about the status quo, they should vote for me.

But if the majority of the electorate does not vote for me and I wind up losing the election, those who voted for my opponent will have lost the moral authority to complain about what is going on in government. I am not a person who gets lost in a crowd. I am the candidate who can transcend politics as usual and make a difference. And at the end of the day, even if I lose, I will still be able to look at myself in the mirror, with a clear conscience, knowing that I tried my very best to make the State of California and the United States of America a better place to live for all honest, hard-working, law-abiding citizens.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

2Jan/106

UOC Meetup in Livermore

I had been looking forward to today for over a week.  A couple of people who I had met briefly at various points over the last few months had decided to organize an unloaded open carry (UOC) meetup in Livermore.  It was to be an informal UOC meetup at the Panama Red Coffee Co. from 11AM to 1PM.  As I have taken a keen interest in UOC over the last month or so, I made it a point to attend the meetup.  This would be my very first UOC.

A few days before the meetup, I was informed that the organizers had been in contact with the Livermore Police Department (LPD).  In order to ensure that everything went smoothly, it was suggested that people who were UOCing could meet with officers from the LPD (prior to the actual Panama Red meetup) at a nearby parking lot in order for officers to conduct a 12031(e) check (to make sure that there was no ammunition actually in the firearm, only in magazines outside of the firearm).  This was a voluntary meeting, not a mandatory one.  It was scheduled to take place between 10:30AM and 10:45AM.  I was informed that it was agreed that no serial numbers would be run by the officers and that they would not check the ID’s of those who showed up.  Of course, those who did not show up for this inspection by the LPD would still be subject to a 12031(e) check by any officer who happened to see them approaching, entering, or exiting Panama Red.

I understand that there are those out there who would be incensed to willingly meet with the Police at a separate location in order to submit to a 12031(e) check.  While I understand their concerns (UOC is not illegal, the 12031(e) checks are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, the checks should be done in front of as many people as possible so that society will see that the Police have no reason to prevent us from UOCing, etc.), I personally had no problem with the agreed upon terms.  While I firmly believe that my right to carry a firearm is guaranteed by the Second Amendment, I also understand that many people in California, including law enforcement officers (LEO), are not accustomed to citizens openly carrying firearms.  As long LEOs do not go too far in violating my rights, I am willing to make an effort to meet them halfway for the sake of making the whole process go smoothly during these early encounters.  I believe that this ambassador-type behavior on my part will help to show law enforcement officers that people who UOC are not dangerous criminals and are, instead, law-abiding citizens who are simply trying to exercise their right to carry a firearm.

Amongst my many options, I decided to UOC my Walther PPK/S for this meetup.  I felt that some of my other firearms were much too bulky to carry for this meetup (e.g. my Desert Eagles).  My matching black Walther PPKs are my favorite handguns, and I was tempted to carry one of them.  But, in the end, I decided to go with my PPK/S because it is stainless steel.  (All of my other handguns are matte black or “blue”.)  I felt that, especially at a meetup with the express intention of displaying one’s rights and educating people, the fact that the PPK/S would be most visible to LEOs and everyday citizens made it the best choice.  And if people wanted to ask me questions about UOC, I was more than willing to tell them what I know about the issue.

I arrived at the parking lot in Livermore a little after 10:30AM.  Four LPD officers and four cruisers were already waiting in the parking lot.  I met up with three other guys who were carrying, as well as some of their family/loved ones.  A little before 10:45AM, we all walked over to the officers, introduced ourselves, and went through the 12031(e) checks.  We brought a ton of cameras and video recorders with us, so the whole process was well-documented.  As soon as the first guy started getting (e)checked, I noticed that the officer decided to read the serial number off the guy’s gun out loud into some sort of recording device.  While they weren’t actually running the serial number of the firearm at that moment, they were recording it and could easily run the serial number at a later time.  It seemed a little shady on their part, but I knew that none of us had anything to hide.  I was the third person to get checked, and I made sure that lots of pictures were taken of my very first (e)check.  What a special moment that I will always remember.  LOL.  After all four of us were checked, the officers thanked us for meeting with them and wished us well for the rest of the day.

Our group of seven (six adults and one precious 9-month-old girl) then walked the half block or so to the coffee shop.  When we got inside, we all ordered and sat down at a group of tables by the large picture windows at the front of the shop.  A couple customers seemed to notice that we were carrying, but nobody seemed panicked at all.  We sat down and started taking about UOC.  People talked about the law as they understood it, our attempts (often in vain) to get clarification on the issue from law enforcement agencies, and people’s past experiences while UOCing.

As we sat there other people began trickling in for the UOC meetup.  At our peak, there were ten of us there who were UOCing, and, including friends and family, there were probably close to 20 people total.  I was extremely pleased with the turnout.  We wound up occupying most of the front of the coffee shop.  A photographer from the Bay Area Newspaper Group (who had been contacted by organizers of the meetup) even showed up and took some pictures of our meetup group.  We made sure to explain to the photographer that I am a candidate for California State Assembly.

It was really interesting to talk with the more experienced UOCers.  I was warned that if I continue to UOC, there is a very good chance that I might wind up on some sort of terrorist watch list.  I find that to be both sad and amusing.  If true, it’s sad that the government would look at a person who is engaging in legal conduct as being some sort of possible terrorist.  A government that is functioning properly should be on the lookout for the bad guys, not the good guys.  It’s amusing because I am probably one of the least likely people in the country to engage in terrorist activities.  I love California, and I love America.  It is that love which prompted me to run for California State Assembly.  I would never engage in terrorist activities.

While we were there, more than a few customers of the coffee shop would stop by and ask us questions about UOC.  Many of the people in the meetup group had brought information pamphlets about UOC, and we were all more than happy to answer people’s questions.  It was also nice to be able to meet face-to-face with people from around the Bay Area who share my concerns about gun rights.  It was eventually decided that we would try to meetup at a different location around the Bay Area each month, hopefully increasing the number of people who turn out for each meetup.

Around 1PM, everyone decided that they were going to go eat at a nearby restaurant.  Even though I had to leave to take care of some other business, I walked over to the restaurant with them.  It was really interesting to see the reactions of people as we walked down the street.  A lot of people didn’t even realize that ten of us were carrying.  And for those who did notice, it didn’t appear that anyone became panicked.  People seemed more interested to figure out who we were more than anything else.  The answer to that is simple: We are law-abiding citizens who are exercising our rights to carry firearms.  I really am looking forward to the next UOC meetup.

I just wanted to end this blog entry with some random thoughts.  While I was getting ready to leave my house, it occurred to me that a whole lot of people who see me with a gun on my hip would probably think that I am some sort of LEO.  I mean, between the way I dress for work and the way I look while out on the campaign trail speaking to groups of people from the community, it really wouldn’t be a stretch for people to think that I am an FBI of Secret Service agent or something like that.  It is not my intention to emulate the look of an LEO; that is simply the way that I dress.  I just wish that I were allowed to wear a suit jacket while I UOC.  Obviously, the jacket would cover the handgun, making it an illegal unloaded concealed carry.  But I am most comfortable when I am fully suited up.

I also know that there are people out there who think that I am occupying law enforcement resources by UOCing.  After all, the LPD had to dedicate four officers to meet with us prior to the meetup, and there were an inordinate number of police cruisers that drove by the coffee shop during the two hours that we were there.  To these people I say this:  I will not apologize for exercising my right to carry.  A right that is not exercised is a right that is easily lost.  If a law-abiding citizen peacefully carrying a firearm is a drain on police resources, then perhaps the police need to adjust their response.  Honestly, I do not know what the LPD expected to happen at the coffee shop for them to feel the need to dedicate so many cruisers to the area.  If anything, I felt safer there in that coffee shop with all of my UOC brethren than I would feel in my hometown of Fremont while not UOCing.  And, ultimately, I maintain that, if the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (and, more broadly, the State of California) were to grant me a concealed weapons permit, I would be able to exercise my right to carry a firearm without most people in society ever even knowing it, thus reducing the chance that law enforcement resources would have to be wasted responding to a law-abiding citizen doing absolutely nothing wrong.

Lastly, I want to thank Panama Red Coffee Co. in Livermore for allowing us to UOC in their wonderful establishment.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

16Dec/090

California Unloaded Open Carry – December 16, 2009

On Monday, December 14, a “zoning technician” at the Fremont Planning Commission told me to check with the Fremont Unified School District to find a list of school zones.  On Tuesday, December 15, I received an e-mail response from Nicole Steward, the communications officer at the Fremont Unified School District.  All she did was simply direct me to was a map showing the attendance boundaries of each of Fremont’s high schools, which is completely useless for determining “school zones” as defined in Penal Code sections 626.9.  She cited “safety reasons” as a reason why the district does not post individual school site maps.  Apparently, according to 626.9, it is dangerous to have a firearm near a school, but the Fremont Unified School District does not want me to know where all the schools are, thus increasing the chances of me accidentally going within 1,000 feet of a school.  Does anybody else appreciate the idiocy at play here?

Last week, I contacted the National Rifle Association and asked whether they could connect me with any lawyers who specialize in firearms laws.  Unfortunately, the law firm that they told me to contact is located in Southern California.  I did get a chance to speak with one of the Associates at the law firm on Tuesday, December 15.  He basically confirmed everything that I had already figured out on my own.  The statutes are on the books, but law enforcement officers and district attorneys have been known to interpret those statutes in their own ways, even if those ways do not conform with comprehension of the English language.  The government tries to avoid giving guidance on issues because it does not want to be held to those standards and wants to be able to change its position if necessary.  It won’t be until cases make their way through the court system that we will get more definitive interpretations of statutes that relate to firearms.  Also, the government seems to have no obligation to clarify their position on the law when asked for specifics by a citizen, but they will not hesitate to bust a citizen if they feel like there might be a violation of the law.

With the obvious disclaimer that his and his law firm’s interpretations of the statutes might be different than those of the government, the lawyer then attempted to answer some of my questions regarding how to UOC in as safe of a manner as possible.  He noted that there have been situations where people have had charges pressed against them for concealing a loaded magazine, so he suggested, to be safe, that a person open carries a magazine on his or her belt.  He said that there appears to be nothing in the books preventing drop-leg thigh holsters, but he said he could see an overzealous law enforcement officer and district attorney saying that a shoulder holster under one’s arm could be viewed as being concealed.  He also suggested that it would be safe to avoid driving while open carrying.  This isn’t to say that he believes that any of these things are illegal.  He was just responding to my attempt to glean an almost-completely safe protocol for UOC.  Quite honestly, he reads the statutes the same way that I read them.  He also told me that, in his experience, people usually do not get charged with UOC within 1,000 feet of a school unless they are on school grounds or pretty much directly across the street from a school.  This isn’t to say that you can’t be arrested for going slightly within 1,000 feet of a school with a firearm.  I’m sure many people have probably had charges pressed against them for exactly that.  He was simply saying, based on his experience, it is the blatant violations of school zones that are most likely to get a person into trouble.

Needless to say, my conversation with this lawyer did absolutely nothing to ease my concern at accidentally violating the law or having an LEO who understands the law differently than the way I do from arresting me and ultimately being prosecuted by a district attorney with an axe to grind.  He also mentioned that, while our conversation was free, if I actually were to get in trouble with the law, his firm’s retainer is $5,000.  Unloaded open carry could potentially get expensive really quick.  I am definitely going to have to get some more advice on this issue.  And it would be wonderful to find an attorney who would be willing to defend me pro bono if I were to be prosecuted for political reasons.

Now, let’s get to my frustration with this entire situation.  Is this really what America has come to?  Or, more specifically, is this really what California has devolved into?  Has California reached a point where honest, law-abiding citizens are at the mercy of tyrannical government?  It isn’t fair that our freedom and financial security can be completely upended by a law enforcement agent or district attorney who chooses to interpret a statute through politically-motivated glasses.  It also isn’t right that the very government that I am turning to in an attempt to fully comprehend and comply with the law is not bound to tell me what the law is, and yet that very same government might not hesitate to prosecute me if it feels that I might have violated the very laws which I am asking for clarification on.  Isn’t the government supposed to work for the people?  If so, why does it feel like the government is fighting against the people?

All of this is absolutely ridiculous.  I’m not asking the government to give me anything here.  We have people who are on welfare who are suckling off the government’s teat, and we have groups and organizations who are asking for bailouts and begging the government to give them money.  I’m not doing anything of the sort.  I am not asking the government to give me a single dime.  I purchased my own handguns and ammunition with money that I worked hard to earn.  I am simply asking the government to allow me to exercise my natural given right to self-protection.  I am asking the government to allow me exercise my right to bear arms that is clearly spelled out in the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution.  And I am asking the government to allow me to exercise my right to openly carry a firearm that is stated in the California Penal Code.  I don’t understand why there is such a concerted effort on the part of the government to deny the citizens of the State of California their rights.  A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

13Dec/090

California Unloaded Open Carry – December 13, 2009 (Part 2)

Friday, December 11 was mostly used to do more research on the Internet with regards to unloaded open carry (UOC).  I also sent out a number of inquiries with regards to finding a lawyer in my area who is an expert in California’s firearms laws.

Approaching midnight, I also decided to join Calguns.net.  This was a notable step for me because, even thought I have looked at many discussion boards on a wide array of issues in the past (I spent years looking at the Jordan Brand forum at NikeTalk), I had never felt like actually joining and posting on any board.  I asked the members for help in locating a local lawyer.

I also became interested in another aspect of the law regarding firearms: California Penal Code Section 626.9.  One of the aspects of this section is that it basically sets up a 1,000 foot perimeter around school grounds in which it becomes illegal (in most cases) to carry a firearm.  Remember, I am by no means a lawyer (hence my current search for a lawyer), so this is just my amateur comprehension of the statute.  But the portion that interests me reads, “(b) Any person who possesses a firearm in a place that the person knows, or reasonably should know, is a school zone…” (emphasis added).  It seems clear that it is virtually impossible to know of every school zone, much less exactly where the 1,000 foot perimeter around school grounds falls.  I am wondering what kind of standard a district attorney would need in order to prove that a person “reasonably should know” that an area is a school zone.  I mean, I clearly know where my elementary, junior high, and high schools are, but I don’t know exactly where the 1,000 foot demarcation is from those school grounds.  Also, there are probably lots of schools around that I have absolutely no idea about.  How can I be expected to “reasonably” know where every single school is located?  This is further complicated by the clause which states, “(k) This section  does not require that notice be posted regarding the proscribed conduct.”  Basically, the government does not have to indicate where the school zones are with signs or anything else, and no signs must be posted that it is illegal to carry a firearm within those areas.

After looking around and posting on Calguns.net for a while, it was now approaching 2:20AM on Saturday, December 12.  I decided to e-mail one of my friends who is an officer in the Fremont Police Department, as well as Fremont Chief of Police Craig Steckler, regarding obtaining a list or map of every school zone in the Fremont area.  At 7:43AM, I received an e-mail from Chief Steckler stating the Fremont Police Department does not have any documents listing where all school zones are.  He suggested that I should check with the Fremont Planning Commission or the Fremont Unified School District.  At 12:47PM, my friend in the FPD e-mailed me back and said that he would do some digging to see if a school zone map exists.  Naturally, I then forwarded Chief Steckler’s e-mail to the Fremont Planning Commission and the Fremont Unified School District.  I also contacted the New Haven Unified School District via their online form, and I sent an e-mail to both the Superintendent of the Newark Unified School District and the Fremont branch of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.  I am making an effort to find out where all school zones are in my area.

One lawyer who I contacted basically told me that the gun rights movement does not want any test cases at the moment.  Believe me when I say that I have no intention of being a test case.  That is why I am trying to figure out what is safe and not safe to do.  And so the search goes on for a lawyer who is sympathetic to my current process of gathering information in order to avoid doing anything that could possibly be construed as being illegal.

I am starting to get conflicting advice from people regarding my efforts to fully understand the laws regarding UOC.  Some people are telling me to go for it and start open carrying immediately.  Others are asking me to lay low and allow other court cases to get settled first.  And there is another group of people who want me to drop the issue completely because they feel it will hurt my chances of getting elected in 2010.  (Obviously, these people do not understand how severely the deck is stacked against me in my State Assembly race.  There is no way that a conservative candidate who isn’t willing to stick his or her neck out and take a stand for what it right has any chance to get elected in gerrymandered AD20.  The status quo favors the Democrats, who have a stranglehold on the area and feel no need to listen to any of the people.)  Quite honestly, I see absolutely no reason to stop asking questions.  Whenever I am interested in something, I have never hesitated to ask questions.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no harm in asking the questions.  But for those people who have never had a chance to meet me in person, don’t worry.  I’m not going to go off and do something stupid.  I am all about gathering as much information as possible before making an informed decision.  I am definitely still in the information gathering stage, and I won’t even think about making a huge decision until I am completely comfortable that I have a firm grasp on the entire situation.

I am also predicting that my progress on educating myself about UOC is going to slow down significantly from this point forward.  I have already talked with the people who are relatively easy to speak with.  I have a feeling that I am now going to be speaking with people who will be deliberately evasive in giving me the answers that I am seeking.  Certain people have a fear of taking any real responsibility in life.  They simply like to sit on their butts, do nothing, get paid a lot of money, and have a fancy title that makes them feel important.  I understand that.  I don’t respect it, but I understand it.  At the same time, I know how to multi-task.  I can work on other issues while this one continues to develop.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

13Dec/090

California Unloaded Open Carry – December 13, 2009

I just wanted to take an opportunity to summarize the responses that I have gotten so far from law enforcement agencies about a few different aspects of unloaded open carry (UOC).  For the sake of disclosure, I would first like to recap who I spoke with at each agency.  (More detailed summaries of my conversations with each agency can be found in earlier posts.)

Fremont Police Department (FPD): Officer Bruner (Badge #1986); Officer MacDonald (Badge #12553)
Newark Police Department (NPD):
Commander Milner (Badge #C-1)
Union City Police Department (UCPD):
Sgt. Souza (Badge #2601)
Milpitas Police Department (MPD):
Sgt. Tran (Badge #200)
Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO):
Sgt. Gemmell (Badge #1365)
California Highway Patrol (CHP):
Officer Simmons (Did not get Badge #, but located in Hayward office)
California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms (DOJBF):
Did not get his name, but located in Sacramento office
Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, Fremont Branch (ACDAO):
Male within the district attorney’s Fremont office who asked that I do not use his name

Now here are the questions that I asked:

Does a loaded magazine have to be carried openly, or can it be concealed in a pocket?
FPD:
Bruner says it is legal to carry in pocket, but recommends that you open carry.  MacDonald says it is illegal to carry ammunition on your person or have it in your vicinity if you UOC.
NPD:
Up to the district attorney to interpret, but recommends open carry.
UCPD:
Loaded magazine can be carried in pocket.
MPD
:  Loaded magazine is a firearm, so it must be open carried.
ACSO:
Loaded magazine can be carried in pocket.
CHP:
Did not have the opportunity to ask the question.
DOJBF:
Told me to talk to a local district attorney or get legal advice.
ACDAO:
Refused to give me legal advice, but said I “should be safe” if I complied with ACSO policies.

Is it legal to UOC in a shoulder holster and/or drop-leg thigh holster?
FPD:
Did not have an opportunity to ask the question.
NPD:
Shoulder holsters and drop-leg thigh holsters are not legal.
UCPD:
Drop-leg thigh holster is legal, but shoulder holster could be construed as concealed.
MPD:
Any form of UOC is fine as long as not concealed by clothing.
ACSO:
Shoulder holster and drop-leg thigh holsters are legal.
CHP:
Did not have an opportunity to ask the question.
DOJBF:
Told me to talk to a local district attorney or get legal advice.
ACDAO:
Refused to give me legal advice, but said I “should be safe” if I complied with ACSO policies.

Is it legal to UOC while driving a car?
FPD:
Did not have an opportunity to ask the question.
NPD:
Not legal to UOC while driving a car because firearm must be in a locked container.
UCPD:
UOC while driving a car is legal, but emphasized that firearm must not be concealed.
MPD:
Legal to UOC while driving.
ACSO:
UOC is fine while driving as long as firearm is on your person.
CHP:
Not legal to UOC while driving.
DOJBF:
Told me to talk to a local district attorney or get legal advice.
ACDAO:
Refused to give me legal advice, but said I “should be safe” if I complied with ACSO policies.

There you have it.  I have received a wide range of differing answers from the agencies that I have spoken with so far.  As you can imagine, I am pretty frustrated with the lack of a definitive answer one way or the other on these basic issues.  It makes it very difficult for a citizen to be certain that he or she is not breaking the law.

If I get an opportunity to speak with additional agencies (or additional representatives from these same agencies), I will post an updated summary of their positions.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

11Dec/090

California Unloaded Open Carry – December 11, 2009

At around 10:30AM on Thursday, December 10, I received a call back from Sgt. Souza (Badge #2601) at the Union City Police Department.  Sgt. Souza seemed to be a very nice person.  He explained to me that the day before had been very busy at the UCPD, and he was calling me back to make sure someone had responded to my earlier inquiry.  I told him that I had not received a call back and that the UCPD was the last local law enforcement agency that I was waiting to hear back from.  I explained to him that I was simply trying to get some clarification about how his agency interpreted California’s unloaded open carry laws.  Fortunately, Sgt. Souza informed me that the UCPD is doing some training on that specific issue.  He explained that safety of the officer is the main concern for him.  He said he advises his officers to draw a gun on any person who is open carrying who they do not recognize as being a law enforcement agent.  He also told me that he would expect that the officers would prone the person out and handcuff the person until the firearm could be inspected to ensure that it was unloaded and a background check could be done on the person.  He also told me that he would expect his officers to treat everyone the same.  When I asked him whether he would expect his officers to draw their weapons, prone out, and handcuff the Mayor of Union City if he were open carrying, Sgt. Souza said that he would.  He said that even the Mayor can have stress and have a bad day and that he would not be willing to risk the life of his officers by not taking every precaution in dealing with such a situation.

It was a lengthy conversation (almost as long as my conversation with Commander Milner at the Newark Police Department last Monday).  I eventually got through my three questions.  Sgt. Souza told me that, as long as a loaded magazine is not attached to the firearm, it can be concealed.  He said that a drop-leg thigh holster would definitely be legal, and it might even be a safer way to open carry than a belt holster because it is less likely to get covered by an arm or clothing.  He did, however, express reservations about the legality of a shoulder holster.  Surprised, I expressed that I would think that a shoulder holster would be the least likely to be construed as being concealed in any way or in violation of open carry.  Sgt. Souza explained that carrying in a shoulder holster could be interpreted as concealed carry if a person’s arms were crossed or if the holster were under the arm pit, thus obstructing open view of the firearm.  He said that there is no issue open carrying while driving as a car, but he emphasized that the firearm cannot be concealed.  I asked him whether that would necessitate orienting the firearm so that it is visible to an officer who is approaching the car window.  He advised me that a person should keep their hands as far away from the firearm as possible and to notify the officer that you are open carrying as soon as he or she approached the car.  He also advised to try to get in a position where the officer is able to view the firearm.

Another interesting issue came to light as I spoke with Sgt. Souza.  At one point, he asked me what organization I was affiliated with.  At that point, I realized that a couple of the other officers who I had spoken with had asked me a similar question.  I asked Sgt. Souza why he was interested in that.  He explained that one of the reasons why it might be so difficult for me to get outright answers one way or the other from law enforcement officers when I ask a question is because many of them feel like members of the public ask them questions to pump them for information and try to put them on the spot.  That would also explain why, when I told Sgt. Souza about how I believed open carry in a shoulder holster did not seem to concealed in any way, Sgt. Souza said something to the effect of, “Well, I expect to see some people carrying in shoulder holsters in the near future.”  He had assumed that I was probing for areas that I could test the limits of the law on.  He thought I would go out and tell some sort of organization that I was working with to have multiple people open carry in shoulder holsters in Union City to see what happens.  I explained to Sgt. Souza that I am not representing any sort of organization.  I am representing me, myself, and I.  I speak for Adnan Shahab.  I am representing my right to defend myself and expressing an interest to exercise my right to openly carry an unloaded firearm that is guaranteed to me under California law.

I am not trying to play any sort of “gotcha politics” here.  For that to be the case, that would necessitate me knowing the correct black and white answer and then questioning law enforcement officers in an effort to catch them making a mistake.  What I am doing is quite the opposite.  From talking to many people, it appears that there is no black and white answer.  Instead, there seems to be a whole lot of gray area when it comes to California’s unloaded open carry laws.  Well, quite honestly, gray area scares me.  I most definitely do not want to break the law, and I don’t want to go to jail.  That is exactly why I am asking so many questions.  I am trying to ask experts in the field to clarify the issue for me.  Honestly, I think that it’s a shame that the California Attorney General cannot simply send an advisory message out to all law enforcement agencies and district attorneys within the state on how to interpret the statutes on the books.  Until that happens, we will not get a black and white answer on unloaded open carry until a test case goes through the courts.  And like I said, I do not want to risk going to jail by being that test case.

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

9Dec/090

California Unloaded Open Carry – December 9, 2009 (Part 2)

Today was an interesting day in my quest to get some answers about California’s unloaded open carry laws.  This is a record of what transpired.

At around 1:45PM on Wednesday, December 9, I attempted to contact the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.  Being as I live in Fremont, I called their branch at the Fremont Hall of Justice.  The man with whom I spoke gave me his name with no hesitation.  But at the end of the call, after he had already told me everything that he was going to tell me, he said that he did not want to be quoted and that he did not want his name to be used anywhere.  I did record his name for my records, but, for now, I will abide by his wishes to not be named.  He did say, however, that it was okay for me to refer to him as a male within the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.  He told me that he could not give me any sort of legal advice with regards to California’s unloaded open carry laws.  He pointed me at 12025 of the Penal Code and told me to interpret the statute for myself.  During the course of our conversation and my attempts to get him to give me some sort of guidance with regards to how the District Attorney’s Office would react to unloaded open carry, he seemed intrigued to hear how some of the law enforcement agencies that I spoke with reacted to my questions.  I informed him that many agencies do not seem to have specific policies to deal with unloaded open carry and that it is left up to the interpretation of individual officers to understand the statutes.  I also told him that I got conflicting responses from many different law enforcement officers.  But the man seemed intrigued when I told him that I was informed that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office does indeed have a policy specifically dealing with unloaded open carry.  After I explained to him the positions of the Sheriff’s Office, he told me that I “should be safe” if I followed their policies.  That is hardly a definitive position that I can take solace in, especially coming from somebody who is unwilling to go on record with his response.

At around 5:00PM on Wednesday, December 9, I once again called the Union City Police Department.  At first I was told by a woman that the Watch Commander was in a meeting and that I would be transferred to his voicemail.  I was transferred, wound up getting stuck in one of those “Press 1 to talk to so-and-so, Press 2 to look up officers by name” phone trees of death, and was then dumped off on another woman who I had to explain everything to once again.  This second woman told me that Watch Commanders don’t have voicemail (why did the first lady try to send me to his voicemail if it doesn’t exist?) and that he was out on the streets at the moment (not in a meeting?).  Apparently, UCPD is the most difficult local law enforcement agency to get a hold of an officer at.  The second woman told me that she could take down my name and number and give it to the Watch Commander when he returned.  I am still waiting to get a call back.

Starting around 5:30PM I started doing more research about California’s unloaded open carry laws online.  I found some discussion threads at Calguns.net to be extremely relevant to the issues that I am researching.  I also read the court decisions in the cases of People v. Knight and People v. Clark.

Unhappy with the response that I got from the man at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office earlier in the day, I decided to e-mail the Fremont branch a little after 10:00PM.  I am hoping to get a more meaningful response from somebody at the DA’s Office this time.  And hopefully that person will be willing to go on record with their response.

I am now trying to find a lawyer in my area who is an expert in California firearms laws.  It would be nice to find someone who is an authority on the subject of unloaded open carry.  And, just in case I do decide to eventually open carry, I want to know a lawyer who will be able to help me if I either accidentally break the law or am unfairly arrested and prosecuted because of misinterpretations of the statutes on the part of law enforcement.  If anyone knows of any such lawyers (hopefully ones who are willing to work pro bono) in the Fremont area, please do not hesitate to send their information to me at AdnanShahab@aol.com

Please visit my official campaign website at:

www.Shahab2010.com

9Dec/091

California Unloaded Open Carry – December 9, 2009

Over the last few days, I have taken a heightened interest in California’s unloaded open carry laws.  Since my first blog entry a few days ago, I have decided to refer to it as “unloaded open carry” instead of simply “open carry” because I feel the unloaded aspect of the process is critical to people understanding what I am talking about.

In talking with a few more law enforcement agencies over the last two days, I have also decided that it is important to chronicle the learning process that I am currently going through.  I want people to understand that I am not simply some crazy person who wants to walk around with a gun.  (Hell, at this point, I’m not even sure whether I will ever get to a point where I actually do feel comfortable enough to open carry.)  Instead, I am making every effort to fully understand California’s unloaded open carry laws.  I am endeavoring to make sure that, if I do make the decision to open carry, I do not break any laws.  Furthermore, in case I do accidentally break the law, I want it noted that I am trying not to break the law.

Another issue that I have run up against is that different law enforcement agencies read the statutes on unloaded open carry very differently.  And even speaking with different officers within the same law enforcement agency, I have heard vastly differing interpretations of the statutes.  That scares me.  With so much left up to interpretation, a person who does decide to open carry in California runs the risk of a law enforcement agent arresting them for something that is completely legal.  Taking the interpretation argument even further, there is always the risk that a district attorney may interpret the statute quite differently from the way a well-intentioned citizen might interpret it.  And who knows what could happen if such a case eventually wound up in the hands of California jury.  And so I will make an attempt to log as much of the process that I am going through for the sake of posterity.

When last I left this issue, there were three main issues that I wanted to gain clarity on:

  • Is it legal to open carry an unloaded handgun in a shoulder holster or drop-leg thigh holster?
  • Does the holster that is being used for open carry have to have a snap closure?
  • Is it legal to open carry an unloaded handgun while driving a car?

I also wanted to revisit a question that I thought I had already gained clarity on.  I continued to read differing opinions on the issue on the Internet, so I wanted to know:

  • While open carrying an unloaded firearm, does a loaded magazine have to be open carried?  (Or can a loaded magazine be concealed in a pocket?)

With these four questions in mind, I contacted the Union City Police Department, the Milpitas Police Department, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, the Fremont Police Department (for a second time), and the State of California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms.  The following a summary of my interaction with each agency.

I e-mailed Union City Police Department on Friday, December 4, but I never got any sort of response.  I also called the UCPD at 11:50AM on Monday, December 7 and asked to speak to a desk officer.  There was no desk officer available to speak with.  A person at the Union City Police Department took down my name and number and told me that I would be called back.  I never received a call back.

I called the Milpitas Police Department around 5:15PM on Monday, December 7.  I spoke with Sgt. Tran (Badge #200) who was very helpful.  In response to my questions, Sgt. Tran said that a loaded magazine is considered to be a firearm, so it must not be concealed and must be open carried.  He said that any form of open carry in a holster is legal as long as the firearm is not concealed in any way by clothing or other things, so shoulder holsters and drop-leg thigh holsters are legal.  Sgt. Tran had not heard anything about snap closures, and he believes snap closures are not necessary on the holster.  He also said that is legal to open carry while driving a car.  He cited the fact that it is legal to drive around with an unloaded shotgun in a rack in your car as evidence of the legality.

In response to an e-mail inquiry that I sent to the Newark Police Department on Friday, December 4, I got an e-mail message on Monday, December 7 stating that my original message was going to be passed along to a Watch Commander.  Approximately 8:20AM on Tuesday, December 8, I received a call from Commander Tom Milner (Badge #C-1).  Commander Milner was a very pleasant guy who was more than willing to talk with me for as long as I wanted to talk about the issue of unloaded open carry.  He told me that Newark leaves it up to the discretion of the officer to look at the totality of the situation when called to the scene of a person who is open carrying.  He said that it is up to the interpretation of the district attorney as to whether a loaded magazine must be open carried.  He said that he, personally, would prefer that the magazine were carried openly.  He said that it is not legal to open carry in a shoulder or drop-leg thigh holster and that the location of the firearm on the belt in the mid-section of the body probably harkens back to the days of the old west.  He said there are no specific of any type of retention in the code, so a snap closure is not necessary.  And after first saying that it was legal to open carry while driving a car, he then changed his mind.  Citing 12026.1, he said that it is not legal to open carry while driving a car because the unloaded firearm must be locked in a container.

Around 9:30AM on December 8, I called the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.  I spoke with Sgt. Gemmell (Badge #1365).  Sgt. Gemmell told me that the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office actually has a policy manual regarding open carry.  I asked him whether there was a copy of that manual that I could take a look at, but he said it is not available to the public.  Sgt. Gemmell told me that he was going to locate their policy manual on open carry and find the answers to my questions.  He called me back around 10:00AM with the answers to my questions.  Sgt. Gemmell told me that it is legal to carry a loaded magazine concealed in your pocket and that the key is that there cannot be any ammunition in the chamber of the firearm.  He said that any open carry holster is fine, so shoulder and drop-leg thigh holsters are okay.  He had not heard anything about snap closures on a holster, so snap closures are not necessary.  He then told me that, as long as an unloaded firearm is being carried openly on your person, it is fine to open carry while driving.  He cautioned that if the firearm is not on your person (e.g. on the passenger seat, under the driver’s seat, etc.), it is a violation of the law.  He also reminded me to be cautious of school zones and government buildings.

I then decided to call the Fremont Police Department again.  Around 10:50AM, I spoke with Officer MacDonald (Badge #12553).  I was explaining to Officer MacDonald that I had called a few days earlier and spoke with Officer Bruner.  I told her that I wanted to get clarification and ask some additional questions.  I started off by saying something to the effect of, “I already know that it’s legal to carry a loaded magazine.  I am trying to figure out if the loaded magazine must be open carried.”  To this, Officer MacDonald told me that it is illegal to carry ammunition on your person or have it in your vicinity if you are unloaded open carrying.  I retorted that she might be mistaken because I had already spoken with numerous law enforcement officers who said it was legal to carry a loaded magazine.  Officer MacDonald seemed to get upset with me.  She asked me something like, “Well, if you already asked the question, why are you calling again?”  I was shocked at her tone.  What kind of community relations is that on the part of a law enforcement officer?  I responded by telling her that my question for her was whether the loaded magazine needed to open carried, not whether I could carry it in the first place.  Officer MacDonald then told me that she had to go because she had to deal with a person at her desk.  She took down my name and number and told me that she would call me back.  At around 11:40AM, Officer MacDonald called me back.  She told me to Google search “Department of Justice Firearms Division” and look at the case laws on that website.  Basically, she punted the entire issue and told me to figure it out for myself.  I might have to call the Fremont Police Department back and speak to someone (not Officer MacDonald) who is actually willing to talk with me about the issue of unloaded open carry.

Around 1:10PM on December 8, 2009, I called the California Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms.  The man who I spoke with referred to penal code sections 12025(f), 12026(b), and 12031(e).  He told me that he cannot give me any sort of legal advice.  He also told me to talk to the local district attorney or to seek legal advice from someone who is an expert in the field of open carry.

So, I am now left with a situation where I cannot get concrete answers to some basic questions about California’s unloaded open carry laws.  About the only thing that I am confident in after the last two days is that a snap closure retention is not necessary on a holster used for open carry (sorry Officer Bruner), so I am going to drop that issue.  It seems that there is a whole lot that is left up to the interpretation of law enforcement officers and district attorneys.  This process is frustrating, but I am not going to get discouraged easily.  This topic interests me, so I am going to do a little more digging.  I want to get a response from somebody who is in a position to give me a definitive answer to my questions.

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www.Shahab2010.com

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