With the announcement early Monday that he had outlawed the public display of handguns in California, Gov. Jerry Brown bucked a national trend toward more lenient firearms laws and placed himself in the political cross-hairs of the state's 2nd Amendment activists.
Brown, the owner of three guns, said in a statement that he signed a bill banning the open carrying of handguns at the urging of law enforcement officials, who included Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. It will take effect Jan. 1.
"I listened to the California police chiefs," the governor wrote.
California has allowed weapons to be displayed in public, provided they are not loaded. Gun enthusiasts took advantage of that to gather at Bay Area Starbucks outlets last year with pistols on their hips. Police chiefs and sheriffs complained that panicked customers' calls were diverting them from chasing real criminals.
Sam Paredes, executive director of the advocacy group Gun Owners of California, said the ban could lead, paradoxically, to more carrying of handguns. Courts, he reasoned, could now force the state's police to distribute more concealed-weapon permits to allow citizens to exercise their rights.