LA City Council supports state ban of bearing arms in public

The Los Angeles City Council went on record today in support of a proposed state law that would ban the carrying of an unloaded, exposed handgun in any public place or street in Los Angeles.

Councilman Paul Koretz said AB 1934, introduced by Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, "would help to promote public safety by decreasing the likelihood of a potentially dangerous confrontation between open carry advocates, the unsuspecting general public and the law enforcement community.''

Supporters of the so-called Open Carry movement exercise their right to bear arms in public places such as Starbucks.

"This is to take on a movement of radical gun advocates,'' Koretz said.

"Right now, you can put an unloaded handgun on one hip, ammunition on the other. It takes as little as two seconds to load it.

"It's frightening for people confronted with these Open Carry advocates in places of business and on the street,'' Koretz added. "It leads to tension and stress that could lead to some very deadly violence.''

Councilman Dennis Zine, an LAPD reserve officer, said "the reason I support this is for the security of our community, as well as for the protection of our police officers.''

The resolution was passed on a 13-0 vote.

Open Carry advocates began gathering at Starbucks coffee shops in Northern California several months ago, after San Francisco-based Peet's Coffee & Tea and Los Angeles-based California Pizza Kitchen adopted policies banning people from carrying firearms in their stores and restaurants, respectively.

Starbucks issued a statement in March, saying the "political, policy and legal debates around these issues belong in the legislatures and courts, not in our stores.''

Weeks later, Koretz filed a resolution urging Starbucks to ban gun-toting customers from its locations, saying, "The city recognizes that private businesses may have the legal right to allow weapons on their private property, but that does not make it right to do so. Allowing firearms in stores such as Starbucks can lead to a very toxic and dangerous environment where people can get shot and even killed.''

The council has yet to act on the resolution, according to a Koretz aide.