Emeryville's Police Chief Plays State-Wide Role In New Gun Law
Over the weekend, Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 144, the common sense firearms safety law that bans "open carry" within California, finally putting to rest citizens openly carrying handguns in public spaces and the new law couldn't have been enacted without the efforts of Emeryville's own Chief of Police Ken James. The contentious issue has been wending its way through the State Assembly in fits and starts for years, gummed up by Republicans and extremist gun groups but was finally signed into law by the Democratic Governor on Sunday.
Chief James has taken a high profile on the issue, serving as the chairman of the gun committee of the influential California Police Chiefs Association and he has used his position to forward AB-144.
Governor Brown told the Associated Press yesterday, "I listened to the police chiefs and they were concerned about" open carry laws.
Emeryville's Police Chief
California's new law, the fifth such open carry prohibition in the nation, makes it a misdemeanor to openly carry an unloaded handgun in public spaces, adding to the existing law that forbids carrying loaded firearms openly in such places. It is this distinction that riled Chief James; "Among other problems it's an officer safety issue, it puts cops in an uncomfortable position", he told the Tattler. Mr James noted that if people openly carry weapons in the community, officers have to stop to check if the handguns are loaded. He said such interactions are rife with possibilities of minor officer peccadilloes and they have consequently been a growing source of litigation, elsewhere in the State, against public agencies by the open carry movement. He hinted that these lawsuits have been part of an orchestrated effort by gun groups such as the National Rifle Association and Cal Guns. Mr James intimated these lawsuits are being used as a tactic against law enforcement and he noted the ideologically driven nature of the open carry people, "This is just a step, they are driving this towards 'concealed carry' laws" or a forced 'shall issue' permit he said, ultimately for anyone asking to carry a concealed and loaded handgun anywhere for any reason.
The president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Dallas Stout told reporters Sunday, "By prohibiting the open carry of guns, we can now take our families to the park or out to eat without the worry of getting shot by some untrained, unscreened, self-appointed vigilante."
Chief Ken James concurred, he said it's about public safety, "people should have the right to feel free and safe in their communities."