The guns hooked on their hips are a symbol of freedom and constitutional rights for some. To others, they represent a conundrum cloaked in fear and the unknown.
A national "Open Carry Movement" has landed in Redlands, bringing local attention to those who openly carry a firearm to exercise their second amendment rights.
Other law enforcement officials in San Bernardino County say they are unaware of their officers encountering open carriers, but some are passing out pamphlets and briefing the rank-and-file members on how to handle them.
State law allows adults who are not prohibited by law to visibly carry an unloaded gun in public places, excluding school zones, government buildings, state and national parks and secured areas like airports.
Police are permitted only to ensure the weapon is not loaded. They cannot run the gun's serial number, ask for the carrier's identification or detain them.
There are no statistics about how many citizens openly carry weapons, but their reasons range from self-defense to getting the public accustomed to seeing guns on people other than cops and criminals.
"It becomes a message, not of intimidation, but that we're here and we have rights," said Mike Stollenwerk, a gun rights activist and co-founder of Opencarry.org.
"People shouldn't treat people carrying guns openly any different than you would treat a person carrying their cell phone on a belt."
Law enforcement officials vehemently disagree, arguing that open carriers pose a potential danger and nuisance to police and could frighten residents.
"They are creating an environment that is exceeding dangerous for them, the officers and innocent bystanders," said Redlands Police Chief Jim Bueermann.
"I think this is absolutely reprehensible behavior. Not only is it dangerous to carry a gun in this day and age, but that they would attempt to goad the officers into behavior that would then allow them to sue or put them in a position where someone could get hurt." [emphasis added]
Yet, a 2006 FBI report finds that would-be cop killers "show signs of being armed that officers miss" and do not regularly use holsters, which is in direct contrast to the rules of open carry. ...
Read the rest of the article here. And you wonder why California is a socialist, gun banning hellhole. If police chief Bueermann truly believes that it's "dangerous to carry a gun in this day and age" then logic (a rare commodity in the political class) would dictate that the first people Chief Bueermann should disarm would be himself, followed by every member of his department. Of course, "do as I say, not as I do" rules the day with these "public servants".