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This paper brings forward the open carry gun law and discusses the different issues that are related to carrying a gun in California. I will begin by discussing past laws, our second amendment. Currently in California it is illegal to openly carry a gun, state law requires you to provide a license and the gun must be concealed. However; there are only four states within the country that have similar laws. Many companies like to follow state laws but those states that implement the open carry law businesses tend to take their own security protocols. Starbucks being one of the largest coffee chains decided to follow state laws, while the NRA looks in the other direction. I will take a look into star bucks legal history. I also will talk about if this decision will affect sales and the reputation of the coffee giant.
Open Carry and Concealed carry of Guns
Open-Carry law is a statute that permits adults who are not forbidden by law to carry a gun or any weapon visibly in public places. These places do not include schools, government buildings, state and national parks and secured areas like airport. In contrast concealed weapon carry is where the person carries a gun but not revealed to be seen. The concealed weapon carry would require license from the authorities which is not easily obtained (Brady Campaign, 2010).
Open carry and concealed carry of arms is advantageous for self defense of all citizens. This is because everybody has a right to safety even if it means self defense. The merit of owning a gun in a home is that it assists the owner to defend himself in the event of an attack on their places of residence. They would not have to depend entirely on the law enforcement officers for their security reasons which go a long way in reducing the state burden of ensuring safety for all its citizens. The disadvantage of possessing arms is that it carries a risk threat to the general society because the carriers may use for homicide and other crimes (Fogcityjournal.com, 2010). The open display of weapons in public places is apparently threatening and intimidating, and poses risks to those within the neighborhood, to law enforcement officers and to the community. There has been increased gun owners who intend to "pass certain messages" about their right to posses weapons by openly carrying guns, specifically pistols and other handguns, in public places such as hotels and coffee shops, as well as to political events such as rallies as well as hall meetings.
Right of bearing arms legally is not right granted by Constitution. However, the Second Amendment only means that such right shall not be contravened by the Legislators. Second Amendment guard ordinary person's right to possess firearm and to use the same for lawful purposes including self-defense. Second Amendment right has limitations which control the right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purposes (LexisNexis Academic, 2010).
The Second Amendment protects personal right to own arms for use in self-defense in an individual's home. The second amendment do not bar some existing laws which include; outlawed gun possession by individuals who are mentally ill and criminals, laws that prohibit arms in sensitive places including schools and government buildings, laws that prohibit carrying of concealed weapons, laws that ensure safety in holding arms to avoid accidents and laws that impose conditions on gun sales and licensing. This means that the second amendment is limited to self-defense at private homes only and that it cannot be used to violate other existing laws that control guns (LexisNexis Academic, 2010).
Petitioners filed a case alleging that municipal ordinances outlawing handgun possession contravened the Second Amendment. The district court upheld the ordinances, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed. The challenged ordinances effectively outlawed possession of handguns by civilians. Self-defense was a basic right and was the central component of the Second Amendment right, and the Court had recognized that the Second Amendment right applied to handguns, which were the preferred firearm to keep and use for protection of one's home and family (LexisNexis Academic, 2010).
Supreme Court held that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms in home for the purpose of self defense in accordance to the Second Amendment (LexisNexis Academic, 2010). However, the court did not further that the right could extent to carrying guns outside homes. In California the law allows residents to carry unloaded guns in accordance to the Second Amendment. The law allows such rights to be exercised in public places but excludes those places considered of utmost security which include airports and government buildings.
The individual states have separate gun rights that govern themselves. Some states have implemented the open-carry system whereas others have outlawed. The federal law does not grant citizens the right to carry arms expressly in self defense but allows it in accordance to the Second Amendment that recognizes open-carry rights but can only be enforced in the states (LexisNexis Academic, 2010). This means that the state views that carrying a firearm openly is legal except where it is outlawed by a specific state. Therefore under the federal law, there is no need for any license to openly carry a weapon. However, the federal government does not allow carrying of concealed weapon without government authority in form of license. Therefore states have a right to outlaw the open carry of weapons and allow concealed weapons without a permit of the same (City of Federal Way, 2006).
The states in America that have implemented open carry include California, Alaska, Vermont and Ohio. The do not have restrictions on open carry and as such allow its citizens to move as they do their normal duties while carrying arms. As for California, they have implemented open carry law but do not allow carrying of concealed weapons without a permit whereby the permits are not easily obtained. In Vermont, there is no permit required to carry a weapon openly or concealed. The regulations state that as long as any resident purchases the weapon legally under the federal law, such a weapon may be carried either loaded or unloaded and openly viewed or concealed. The state does not have any criteria specified for an individual to possess a weapon. The only express restriction of weapons in Vermont is at schools and government buildings. Alaska is the other only state that has implemented open carry law and permit possession of concealed weapons without permit. In addition, they retained a "shall-issue" law that allows those citizens who wished to apply for such permits to be given in line with other states. Moreover, Ohio State allows open carrying of arms in several of its places without any permit requirement (Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, 2006).
The states that have implemented open carry are performing under pressure to amend their legislations. The only fact remains that the people visiting have fear developed whenever they see residence carrying arms openly. The other factor is that these states have high rates of homicides caused by home guns and as such does not reflect good intention of owning guns. There is a lot of pressure from the citizens for these states to stop the open carrying of weapons. There are bills being sponsored by anti-gun legislators that push the amendments to the existing laws to outlaw open carrying. For instance, in California, the legislators were close to passing the AB1934 bill in June, 2010, which would have repealed California's open-carry gun law (Fogcityjournal.com, 2010).
The gun control rights have caused differences in opinion of the various stakeholders. NRA would want the gun control rights enforced and open carry law not allowed. The NRA are supporting anti-gun legislators to ensure that they pass legislations that prohibit open carry of weapons. However, Starbucks coffee restaurant in California allows its customers to carry guns openly within its premises. Customers showed up at the restaurant carrying their unloaded side arms and hung out, drinking coffee or talking. This is in accordance with the California state law that permits open carry for all its citizens (Fogcityjournal.com, 2010). The coffee shop history has been accepting the open carry law which has affected its sales positively as well as negatively. There is an increase of those customers who enjoy carrying arms around but those who fear the guns avoid the shop leading to reduced sales.
The practice that allows guns in the premises of Starbuck is intimidating and is potentially dangerous to the families and the society at large. Although it has been the tradition of the coffee shop to allow guns, it has a right to abolish the same within its shops. With the policies such as putting up signs at the entrance that prohibit open carry could gradually reduce the behavior and lead to a safer environment for all citizens. A lot of groups have teamed to petition the coffee restaurant to restrict guns in its store to avoid customers being intimidated. The petitions are going on hitherto until the time that they will refuse open carry law within its premises just like Peet's Coffee & Tea and California Pizza Kitchen which have accepted consumer petitions and disallowed the open carrying of guns within their premises (Brady Campaign, 2010).
The open carry law that permits citizens to carry unloaded guns poses some danger to the general public and can cause injuries to the public. In the United States there is homicide associated with gun-free homes are high (Fogcityjournal.com, 2010). This means that open carry of guns could likely create fear among the public and may result even in deaths caused by gun carriers.
The law allowing guns to be carried around openly has proved that it can cause harm and as a result it is appropriate that more gun control measures should be put in place. The NRA has been advocating for the repeal of open carry laws and as such should be backed by lawmakers in order to carry out necessary legislations (Brady Campaign, 2010). The powerful lobbying is being done to ensure that officials who have high score in gun rights get elected to public offices and will in turn make legislations that could repeal the open carry laws.
The open carry as well as concealed carry laws are very sensitive because they deal directly with security which directly affects the lives of citizens of a state. Therefore it is of great significance that the legislators consider all facts before they decide on drastic changes to the laws to suit any particular interests. The State authorities should be held responsible for the security of all citizens and as such could be in a better position to manage security if nobody was allowed to carry a weapon openly which could intimidate the general public. According to the current pressure on the States that allow open carry of weapons it seems to indicate that in the future they may bow to pressure and outlaw all the open carry laws. This is indicated by the current small number of states that have implemented open carry laws.