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Federal Lawsuit Filed Against California's Ban on Openly Carried Loaded Firearms in Public

Posted: 12/8/2011

A Federal Civil Rights lawsuit naming California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the City of Redondo Beach, its police department and police chief has been filed in the Federal Central District Court for California.

Defendants have until December 14th to waive service of summons. Those who do not will be served the following day which coincides with the 220th Anniversary of the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights.

In 1967, the California Legislature made it a crime to openly carry a loaded firearm in most public places in California. This was a knee-jerk reaction to the activities of the Black Panther Party which included a band of its members marching into the California State Capitol building openly carrying loaded firearms.

One of the Penal Code sections enacted as a result of this impromptu publicity stunt was California Penal Code section 12031 which makes it a crime to openly carry a loaded firearm in incorporated cities and areas of a County where the discharge of firearms is prohibited.

The opinion of then Attorney General Thomas C. Lynch was that “ remains clear that the Legislature did not direct the provisions of section 12031 against all uses of firearms but only at uses of firearms which are inimical to the peace and safety of the people of California.”

Then Governor Ronald Reagan was adamant that the legislation not apply to openly carrying loaded firearms through town for peaceful purposes such as hunting.

The lawsuit was intended to disarm the members of the Black Panther Party. Since then, it has been applied to persons which the statute itself exempts such as hunters and persons with loaded firearms inside of mobile residences.

This year, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill AB 144 into law which makes it a crime to openly carry an unloaded handgun as well. That law goes into effect on January 1st. As a result, California has banned a complete class of weapons commonly used for the purpose of self-defense from being openly carried in public. Only unloaded rifles and shotguns may be openly carried after the new year.

The lawsuit was filed by Charles Nichols, President of The plaintiff in the lawsuit has filed as an individual. is not a plaintiff in this case.

The case number is CV-11-9916 SJO (SS). The case has been assigned to Federal Judge S. James Otero.

Funds for the lawsuit are being raised by Open Carry advocates across the state:

California Right To Carry
Riverside Open Carry Club
Inland Empire Open Carr
California Carry
Orange County Open Carry
Bay Area Open Carry Movement
California Open Carry Movement

Donations to the lawsuit can be made online at and

Donations are not tax deductible.


If you would like more information about this topic, please send inquiries to Charles Nichols: email

California Right To Carry is a California nonprofit registered with the California Secretary of State. It does not solicit or accept public donations for its organization. Operating expenses are provided entirely by its membership.

100% of the donations to the legal fund will be used for the Federal lawsuit. None of the money goes to the organization – California Right To Carry. Donations are not tax deductible.


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