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Legislation that bans carrying unloaded rifles in public was passed Thursday by the Assembly.

The measure, Assembly Bill 1527, cleared the lower house 44-28 with no Republican support.

Proposed by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, the bill is similar to a new state law banning the open carry of handguns that took effect Jan. 1.

AB 1527 takes aim at a movement that encourages people to show up at public places with unloaded weapons. Supporters contend that openly displaying firearms can startle onlookers, scare children and provoke violence.

Portantino said the appearance of gun-wielding people in public can escalate tensions and spark tragedy.

"We in this chamber have the ability to prevent that tragedy," he said.

Opponents contend that AB 1527 would create another obstacle to the constitutional right to bear arms and do nothing to reduce violence because criminals do not abide by such laws.

Members of the open carry movement are "law abiding citizens who have no evil, nefarious purpose," said Assemblyman Jim Nielsen of Gerber.

AB 1527 carries a penalty of up to six months in jail if only a rifle is displayed illegally in public. It calls for a maximum penalty of one year in jail if the offender carries ammunition for the weapon as well.

The bill allows dozens of exceptions, including carrying a rifle on private property with permission of the owner, carrying it within a gun show, or carrying it for use at a target-shooting range, a parade, or while hunting.

AB 1527 now goes to the Senate.


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