Assembly OKs bill banning carrying of unloaded guns

The California Assembly approved a bill Monday to prohibit openly carrying unloaded handguns in public after a debate that pitted gun rights proponents against chiefs of police.

The bill, A.B. 144, would make it a misdemeanor to carry an exposed and unloaded gun in a public place, street or vehicle except in some unincorporated areas. It was approved 45-29 largely along party lines and moves to the Senate.

Several states ban openly carrying handguns and at least one applies the ban to unloaded weapons.

The National Rifle Association was one of several groups that opposed the California bill and reportedly plans to sue if it becomes law.

The bill’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino of La Canada Flintridge, said it will improve public safety. It is supported by the California Police Chiefs Association and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.


Vatican directs all bishops to report pedophile priests

The Vatican told bishops around the world Monday that it is important to cooperate with police in reporting priests who rape and molest children and asked them to develop guidelines for preventing sex abuse by next May.

But the letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made no provision to ensure the bishops actually follow the guidelines, and victims groups immediately denounced the recommendations as “dangerously flawed” because they stress the exclusive authority of bishops to determine the credibility of abuse allegations.

The letter marks the latest effort by the Vatican to show that it is serious about rooting out pedophiles from the priesthood, a year after the sex abuse scandal exploded on a global scale with thousands of new victims coming forward.

It is significant in that it marks a universal directive to all the world’s bishops to establish “clear and coordinated procedures” with superiors of religious orders to deal with pedophiles and care for victims.


Admiral: Sea-based drones to play integral role in Asia

The U.S. is developing aircraft carrier-based drones that could provide a crucial edge as it tries to counter China’s military rise.

American officials have been tightlipped about where the unmanned armed planes might be used, but a top Navy officer has said that some would likely be deployed in Asia.

“They will play an integral role in our future operations in this region,” said Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet, which covers most of the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Land-based drones are in wide use in Afghanistan, but sea-based versions will take several more years to develop. Northrop Grumman conducted a first-ever test flight – on land – this year.

Military analysts agree the drones could offset some of China’s recent advances.