Florida is one of the states in the country that prohibits their residents from open carrying their firearms. The Sunshine State is poised to consider many gun bills this session, one of which allows concealed carry permit holders in the state to open carry their firearms. Yet, it’s not necessarily a popular piece of legislation. It divides the state right down the middle, and it’s barely moving forward in the legislature. At the same time, the bill received an endorsement from a group that initially opposed the legislation: Florida Sheriffs Association (via WFLA.com):
The FSA is offering this proposal to protect Florida’s 1.5 million concealed carry permit holders and clarify Florida laws related to the inadvertent display of firearms, without legalizing complete open carry.
“Today [Jan. 20] in Florida, responsible concealed weapons permit holders can face penalties for unintentionally displaying a weapon – highlighting a major oversight in the laws governing our ability to carry a concealed weapon,” said Sheriff Darnell.
“Our proposal protects those who responsibly carry concealed and creates certainty in the law to prevent any unnecessary arrest and prosecution of gun owners who are otherwise following the law.”
Concerns related to the arrest and prosecution of concealed carry permit holders who inadvertently display a firearm were identified by the National Rifle Association (NRA) during the 2011 Legislative Session when the current law addressing briefly displaying a firearm was passed.
However, in a recent appearance before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee and in various other public statements, NRA Past President and current United Sportsmen of Florida President Marion Hammer stated as the reason for their support of the current open carry bill that “there have been problems for years of license holders who were carrying concealed whose firearms accidently and unintentionally became visible to the sight of another person, being stopped, harassed and even arrested and prosecuted under the ban on open carry because somebody saw their gun.”
The Florida Sheriffs Association is taking steps to address the problem as stated by Hammer and others, but our proposal stops short of Florida becoming a complete open carry state.
It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.