About 25 people armed with rifles, shotguns and handguns gathered in Pacific Beach on Saturday to protest the state's new bill which bans carrying a handgun in public.
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"We are losing our rights in this country," said event organizer Sam Wolanyk, who said the law takes guns away from the wrong people. "Criminals don't openly carry. Gang members don't openly carry. No one ever openly displayed their weapon on the way to rob a bank or commit a murder."
Starting on Jan. 1, anyone who openly carries a handgun in public regardless if it is loaded or not could face a $1,000 fine as well as year in jail.
"Now, the only method of exercising your Second Amendment rights in California is to openly carry long guns, meaning rifles and shotguns," said Wolanyk.
A loophole in the bill makes it legal to carry an unloaded shotgun in public. However, the militia-like sight on Ocean Front Walk on Saturday startled many visitors.
"I'm going to get out of here because I don't like guns," said one visitor. "They scare me and it can get out of control, so we're going to leave right now."
"We've had many people come up [and say] that they're concerned seeing this and so our whole goal out here is to provide a police presence," said Shelley Zimmerman, who is an assistant chief with the San Diego Police Department.
The state law aims to prevent any incidents that arise from having guns in public. California is the fifth state to ban openly carrying handguns.
Albert Etallah said he supports getting guns off the streets.
"The more chance you give people to acquire guns, the more likely it is they'll build up arms," he said.
Wolanyk hopes the protest educates others about the benefits of an armed and educated citizenry.
"We're here," said Wolanyk. "We're not going away
might want to get used to it."
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