Gun Rights Debate Shifts to California Bill on governor's desk would make it illegal to openly carry firearms By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Sep 17, 2011 6:45 AM CDT 64 comments Comments File photo of a Starbucks customer and advocate of 'open carry' rules in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file) (Newser) – The gun-control debate faces a California test: A bill on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk would make it illegal for residents to openly carry a gun. If Brown signs it, California would be the first state since 1987 to ban the practice, notes the Los Angeles Times. Brown is a gun owner himself, and it's not clear where he stands on the measure, which cleared the legislature this week. It would cut down on an increasingly popular tactic of gun-rights advocates in California and elsewhere: staging protests in which people gather at Starbucks or similar locales with guns on full display. (Californians can do so under current law, but their guns must be unloaded; rules in other states differ.) Those kinds of protests are "irresponsible and dangerous," says the director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who hopes Brown will send a message. "People in other states look to see what California does." But "the national trend is exactly the opposite direction," says a spokesman for OpenCarry.org. "There is no reason to do this other than a general dislike of gun rights."