The right to openly bear arms: California gun owners challenge open-carry restrictions

© Bill Waugh
Gun rights activists in California are going to court after the Ninth Circuit of Appeals found no constitutional right to concealed-carry. This time, however, the firearms advocates are looking to have the right to open-carry recognized.

Second Amendment enthusiasts in California are ready and raring to take their legal battle for deregulation of gun control to the next level. Realtor Michelle Flanagan, along with the California Rifle and Pistol Association, has filed charges against California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

The suit, known as Flanagan v. Harris, seeks to lower the bar for allowing citizens to carry guns in public spaces.

California...bars ordinary, law-abiding citizens from carrying a firearm for self-defense… unless the individual has a license to carry a firearm ('Carry License') issued by the local sheriff or chief of police,” the suit claims.

The suit comes on the heels of a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that shot down hopes of lowering the requirements for concealed carry. In June, the 7-4 ruling found that the Second Amendment does not include the right to be in public with hidden weapons.

Flanagan and her allies hope to eliminate a combination of restrictions that are nearly a century old but were tightened by former California Governor Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s 1967 gun control measures, known as the Mulford Act, were a direct response to the regulated militias by the Black Panthers that patrolled African-American neighborhoods in Oakland.

The legacy of gun control put into place by Republican poster boy Ronald Reagan would curl the hairs of today’s guns rights activists. Reagan told reporters in 1967 that there was “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.

In order to get a concealed weapon permit, California residents are required to obtain a permit from law enforcement. As a result, it is nearly impossible for citizens of urban areas – such as Los Angeles, to get a permit unless they are police or security guards.

It is somewhat easier in rural areas, but getting a permit requires that the individual have a concrete need for self-defense and a clean criminal record, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

It is these requirements that Flanagan hopes to see loosened. According to Reason, she is a realtor who believes she requires a concealed weapon, because “her job duties require her to enter vacant industrial buildings alone, where she encounters vagrant men who are often much larger than her.

She is joined by three other plaintiffs in the lawsuit.