The LA Weekly is tackling one of my old favorite topics: carrying a gun in Los Angeles. They are specifically talking about carrying one in Starbucks but it’s worth taking the opportunity to discuss the larger issue. Yes, carrying a gun in Los Angeles is legal in a variety of different situations. For anyone who can legally own a gun, carrying the gun exposed and unloaded (though you can also carry the ammo separately) is completely legal assuming you aren’t near a handful of places like a school or bank where it suddenly becomes very illegal. This is a right granted by not just the US constitution but also the CA constitution which you can read more about on CaliforniaOpenCarry.org.
There are many arguments for and against carrying a gun openly. The immediate reaction I hear most often is that it’s a great way to get shot by a police officer. That’s actually not really something to worry about as no officer in his or her right might is going to risk their job by shooting someone for legally carrying a holstered weapon. Now pulling the thing out and waving it around is another story all together. In fact here is a Los Angeles District Attorney memo and a Los Angeles Sheriff Dept memo about open carry explaining it is legal and explaining to officers what actions they can and can’t take.
All that aside, I personally feel carrying a gun exposed in public attracts a lot of attention that there is really no need for. If and when I carry a gun I try to avoid any extra attention and prefer no one know I even have one. This is why I prefer the Concealed Carry option. Unfortunately, where as open carry is a public right, concealed carry requires a specific permit. I say unfortunately not because I think permits are bad, in fact I think when coupled with proper training and regulation they are a fantastic thing, what is unfortunate is how these permits are handled in California. The permits are valid state wide but can only be issued in the city or county you live in, and it’s up to one person in each of those places to decide if they should issue you one or not. The result of this is its very easy to get a permit in some parts of the state, and near impossible to get a permit in others. The result of that is if you live in Los Angeles you probably can’t get a permit unless you have some serious political connections, but someone who lives in say, Orange County for example, can get a permit and carry their gun concealed in LA. So people who don’t live in LA have more rights than people who do. Isn’t that awesome?!
But to get back to the original article, the LA Weekly is noting that some groups are trying to pressure Starbucks into banning customers from legally carrying exposed weapons. Why? Do they think saying something is a gun free zone will some how make it safer? Do you think a place being a gun free zone somehow makes it safer? Before you answer that keep in mind that Westroads Mall in Omaha was a gun free zone, Fort Hood was a gun free zone, and every single school shooting in US history has taken place in a gun free zone.
It seems to me that throwing up “gun free zone” signs doesn’t actually do anything to make people safer, and when you consider something like Fort Hood, actually makes people less safe. I’d prefer to see public outcry to allow law abiding citizens who are properly trained to have the ability to defend themselves and others without having to make some huge political statement by carrying a gun openly just to do it.