Governor signs bills to ban open carry of handguns, shark fin sales

SF Public Press
 — Oct 10 2011 - 11:18am

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed bills to make it illegal to openly carry handguns and to ban the sale and possession of shark fins in California. The shark fin bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2013 while the open carry ban begins Jan 1, 2012

The shark fin bill has been a controversial topic in the past few months, with state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who is running for San Francisco mayor, calling the ban “insensitive to the Chinese culture” when the bill was introduced in February by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino.

Fong said the ban was not an attack on Chinese culture, but on the practice of taking the shark fins. Yee has been mum on the topic since.

Several organizations came out in support of the ban of the selling and possessing of shark fins. WildAid, a nonprofit organization that campaigns to end illegal trade in wildlife, has been working to educate restaurant owners and stores that sell shark fin on how it affects the shark population.

Brown agrees.

"Researchers estimate that some shark populations have declined by more than 90 percent, portending grave threats to our environment and commercial fishing,”  Brown said in a statement.

“Governor Brown has chosen to protect our ocean’s ecosystem and help end the decimation of the shark population.,” said Fong.

Shark fin is a Chinese delicacy usually served at Chinese restaurants for special occasions such as birthdays and weddings. Brown signed a companion bill that would allow restaurants to continue selling their remaining stock until July 1, 2013.

California will join Washington, Hawaii and Oregon in the banning the selling and possession of shark fin.

Gun bills

The open carry bill had strong opposition from gun rights advocates but was backed by law enforcement and the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence.

The bill, by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge,was prompted by the "open carry" movement, in which people displayed firearms in public places to protest gun-control laws.

There are exemptions in the bill for peace officers, military gatherings, gun shows and hunting.

According to the Los Angeles Times, violations will be a misdemeanor, with offenders facing up to one year in jail and a potential fine of $1,000. Gun owners may still apply to their local law enforcement agency for a permit to carry a concealed firearm.

Opponents of bill, such as Mike Stollenwerk, co-founder of OpenCarry.org, say the law is an attack on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The governor also signed another gun control measure that requires the state to keep records of rifle sales starting in January 2014. It currently requires records only of handgun sales.

The open carry bill was signed late Sunday night and the shark fin ban was signed on Friday.