http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_14773993 'Open carry' gun advocates plan barbecue in Vallejo park By Lanz Christian Bañes Posted: 03/28/2010 02:25:14 AM PDT Updated: 03/28/2010 02:25:15 AM PDT Vallejo's Washington Park is set to be the setting of an "open carry" gun rights gathering next weekend. In what has become an increasingly familiar scene throughout the Bay Area, between 100 to 150 people will show up Saturday to expose the general public to gun rights, organizers say. "We're just raising community awareness and kind of acclimating people to the idea (of carrying guns)," said Brad Huffman, a Martinez resident who is organizing the event in Vallejo. Openly carrying guns on a belt holster is legal in California so long as the firearms remain unloaded and aren't near schools or government buildings. In the past six months, gun rights advocates have gathered with their unloaded weapons everywhere from restaurants in Walnut Creek to coffee shops in Livermore as a way to show their right to bear arms and help normalize the idea of gun-toting by law-abiding citizens in California, Huffman said. It's not unusual in some states for people to carry guns in public, Huffman said. "It's legal and their right." The movement ("more of a loose association of people," Huffman said) came to Vallejo upon invitation by some gun rights advocates. In addition to the invitation, the city's bankruptcy and dwindling police force also came into consideration when planning the event. "You don't have to be a victim. We don't encourage vigilantism, but we do want people to know they have the right to self-defense," Huffman said. Huffman acknowledges that carrying unloaded firearms isn't the best situation, but those who do openly carry know how to quickly load them, he said. Open carry advocates meet up every week in small groups here and there, but come together en masse about once a month, Huffman said. The group is working to obtain a city permit for the event, he said. The meetings have not been without controversy as businesses throughout the Bay Area have struggled to cope with the sudden appearance of an armed group. While Starbucks and Panama Red Coffee Company have continued to allow guns on its premises, chains like Peet's Coffee & Tea and California Pizza Kitchen have banned them. The group has been in contact with the Vallejo Police Department, said Lt. Eric Mortenson. "We're aware of their plans. We don't anticipate any problem based on their knowledge of the law and their conformance to the law in past events," Mortenson said, adding that they have always been peaceful. The Vallejo picnic runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Washington Park, on the 900 block of Ohio Street. There will be a free barbecue and a fundraiser to support a Vallejo youth scholarship fund from the Greater Vallejo Recreation District, Huffman said. For more information, visit www.NorCalOC.com.