More than a dozen people packing pistols on their hips strolled down the Hermosa Beach strand Saturday, picking up garbage and distributing fliers about the rights of gun owners.
The event was part of a burgeoning and controversial "open carry" movement nationwide promoting the right to carry guns in public. Although carrying a concealed weapon is illegal without a permit, California allows people to openly carry guns in many areas as long as they are unloaded, though they can keep ammunition with them.
Members of South Bay Open Carry, which organized the beach cleanup, said they hope such events will dispel misgivings about gun owners and make carrying a handgun in public more acceptable. Organizers said they turned the event into a cleanup to demonstrate that they are contributing to the community.