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California gov. signs bill banning open carry of handguns

Carousel - Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown answers questions concerning his debate with his GOP opponent Meg Whitman at California State University, Fresno, in Fresno, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. Brown and Whitman exchanged jabs Saturday over Whitman's treatment of the worker and whether she knew her legal status. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) CBS/Getty Images

Updated: 5:04 p.m. ET

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed a bill banning the open carrying of handguns in public, making California the fifth U.S. state to do so.

California State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, who authored the bill, told Hotsheet in an interview that the law was a natural way to prevent gun violence.

Citing instances where law enforcement members are called out to investigate individuals carrying guns, Portantino said "men and women in uniform are put at risk unnecessarily when they're called out to investigate" open carry proponents.

The Democratic assemblyman also noted that "law enforcement came to us and asked us to solve this problem."

"Law enforcement professionals believe that the current loophole is a prescription for disaster - and I side with the law enforcement professionals who believe that their men and women in uniform are being unnecessarily being put at risk," he said. 

The law, Assembly Bill 144, makes it a misdemeanor to openly carry an unloaded handgun on one's person in specified public areas. The law will be enacted on January 1st, and offenders will face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Portantino argued that the bill would also save the state time and money.

"When you take someone's attention away from other duties unnecessarily you're wasting resources," he said. "This bill is going to protect law enforcement, it's going to protect the rights of families and it's going to save the wasting of resources."

Gun rights activists have protested the bill as violating Second Amendment rights, and Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly described the bill as an "unconstitutional assault on our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms."

"The Democrats in the state have decided that they want to undermine and erase the Second Amendment," he said in an interview with Hotsheet. "All they ever do is infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens."

He added: "We live in a free society - and that involves risk. I would rather have added risk to my life and live free and accept that than have the government try to solve every teeny little problem."

At least one pro-gun rights group has promised that, in the wake of the law's passage, Californians "had better get used to seeing these same law abiding citizens carrying their rifles and shotguns."

"This law being billed as a public safety issue when NO public safety was ever an issue," wrote the group "Contra Costa Open Carry" in a statement, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "If the liberals are scared of seeing a law abiding citizen carrying an unloaded handgun in a belt holster, they had better get used to seeing these same law abiding citizens carrying their rifles and shotguns."

The group said it was "deeply disappointed" about the ban.

The group "Gun Owners of California," too, lambasted Brown in a letter on its website, and accused him of having "wasted a clean record and joined the ranks of his fellow anti-gun governors."

"Governor Jerry Brown's action [sic] have placed him firmly in the anti-gun camp and anybody who says anything different must be basking under the light of a midnight moonbeam," writes Sam Paredes, executive director of the group.

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