The two houses of the California Legislature share the same Capitol, the same legal underpinning, the same authority to act on bills and craft new laws and Democratic majorities. But they are different temperamentally and nowhere was that clearer this past week than in the question of packing heat. In an odd move, Assembly Chief Sergeant Ron Pane authorized all its sergeants-at-arms to carry concealed weapons. So now they do. There were no increased security threats, either against the institution or individual members – at least none that were disclosed publicly – and there were no demands or recommendations from the public or other law enforcement agencies that the sergeants all carry a piece. The order ultimately came from the speaker, who said the action would protect both members and public. The move, first reported in the Bee, caught the Capitol by surprise. That was especially true in the Senate, where the top sergeant – the Legislature’s most experienced law enforcement officer – questioned the wisdom of the move and noted that the building already has security protection that includes metal detectors, visitor screening and 24-hour-a-day patrols by armed CHP officers. Moreover, the Assembly took the action without consulting or informing the Senate, which also was odd. And odder still was the Assembly chief sergeant’s decision a few days later to allow four unidentified lawmakers to carry guns onto the floor. The Senate’s top sergeant was aghast and the Assembly speaker quickly rescinded the decision. But outside the Capitol, the whole gun episode left people scratching their heads…

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