Florida Sheriffs Association Pitches Alternative To Open Carry

January 21, 2016

Florida sheriffs Wednesday proposed an alternative to a controversial bill that would let people with concealed-weapons licenses openly display firearms in public, but the proposal quickly drew opposition from Second Amendment advocates.

The Florida Sheriffs Association, which has opposed the open-carry measure, outlined proposed steps that would provide immunity to people who inadvertently or accidentally display firearms. However, a release from the association noted the proposal “stops short of Florida becoming a complete open-carry state.”

The Senate version of the bill (SB 300) has not been heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. But committee Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, said Tuesday he’s likely to schedule the bill for a vote, saying, “I heard there may be some good amendments.”

On Wednesday, Diaz de la Portilla said he was still reviewing the sheriffs’ proposal, which the association said would protect permit holders from arrest for unintentionally displaying weapons in violation of state law.

The proposal would require that people intentionally and deliberately violate the law before they could be arrested. Also, it would take steps such as establish a presumption that concealed-weapons license holders are lawfully carrying guns; prohibit people from being convicted if they aren’t given a chance to explain possible violations of the law; and allow the expungement of arrest records under the law if people are found not guilty or charges are dismissed.

“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,” Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, the association’s president, said in a prepared statement.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the association’s legislative chairman, added that the proposal “is a solid alternative to opening the door to full-blown open carry, which creates significant public safety challenges for law enforcement.”

But National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer quickly expressed disapproval with the proposed changes.

“My reaction to the sheriffs’ proposal is not only no, but hell no,” Hammer said. “They’ve had five years to do this, to correct problems they knew exist.”

A similar proposal was offered in 2011, and Hammer said her legal counsel advised her not to accept it because it wouldn’t stop abuse of people with concealed-carry licenses from being arrested for accidentally exposing guns.

“My attorney said don’t take that amendment because it won’t work,” Hammer said. “People have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution doesn’t say that the sheriffs get to say how.”

The release from the sheriffs association said the proposal seeks to address concerns expressed in committee meetings by Hammer and others about people with concealed-carry licenses being arrested for accidentally and unintentionally allowing guns to become visible.

“In announcing the proposal, the FSA (Florida Sheriffs Association) is asking the Legislature to consider an alternative proposal that closes the loopholes but balances public safety concerns,” the sheriffs’ release said.

Sean Caranna, executive director of the gun-rights organization Florida Carry Inc., described the sheriffs’ proposal as “woefully insufficient.”

“The FSA’s predictions of ’significant public safety challenges for law enforcement’ echo the cries of law enforcement in Texas and Oklahoma before licensed open carry went into effect in those states and in Mississippi when it became the 30th unlicensed open carry state,” Caranna said in an email. “After open carry became legal in those states, law enforcement officials have universally admitted that their fears about open carry passing was all much ado about nothing.”

The House’s open-carry proposal (HB 163) has already cleared the committee process and awaits a floor vote.

by Jim Turner, The  News Service of Florida


9 Responses to “Florida Sheriffs Association Pitches Alternative To Open Carry”

  1. Kenny on June 9th, 2016 9:15 am

    I support open carry but with 2 stipulations 1 must attend a firearm safety and use class. 2 Must attend a weapons retention class. I think this would people who want to open carry, but do it safely. Any ideas or suggestions?

  2. Ed Harrison on January 25th, 2016 12:58 pm

    Any government official NOT supporting the Constitution/BoR should be tried and hung for treason. Period.

  3. Concerned Citizen on January 22nd, 2016 5:41 am

    The 2015 Florida Statutes 790.053 Open carrying of weapons.—
    (1) Except as otherwise provided by law and in subsection (2), it is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device. It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.

    (2) A person may openly carry, for purposes of lawful self-defense:
    (a) A self-defense chemical spray.

    (b) A nonlethal stun gun or dart-firing stun gun or other nonlethal electric weapon or device that is designed solely for defensive purposes.

    (3) Any person violating this section commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

  4. john on January 21st, 2016 8:21 pm

    @jeeperman, my understanding is if someone else can see it, you had better be fishing, hunting,camping,on your property or at the range, if not you would be in violation of your permit. Some correct me if I’m wrong.

  5. john on January 21st, 2016 8:03 pm

    I’m fine with concealed carry only, in my opinion, but they certainly need to fix accidental exposure problem, and it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out if someone has gone through the process and classes to get their permit THEY ARE TRYING TO OBEY THE LAW. And Second, I have a great deal of respect for law enforcement, but in regards to open carry, them having to deal with increased calls from citizens for example ” hello 911, I’m at Walmart buying some eggs and there is someone that has a gun on his side he is holding a child with one arm and reaching for milk in the milk cooler AND IM SOOOOO SCARED” Its calls like this that leos don’t want to have to deal with, but don’t call it a public safety issue because its not!!!

  6. Rob K on January 21st, 2016 11:26 am

    Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is an idiot when he says open carry “creates significant public safety challenges for law enforcement.” Forty-five other states have open carry and it doesn’t create “public safety challenges for law enforcement” in any of them. 45 other states have open carry and people don’t get mistakenly gunned down by police in any of them! Are Florida policeman unusually trigger happy?

  7. jusgt listening on January 21st, 2016 8:24 am

    I don’t think the people are ready to return to the wild west when everyone carried guns on their hips ready to pounce in any situation. I would want to think that our society is beyond that and no need to be openly packing. BUT with the fast changes taking our country – personal protection has returned. My thinking is to keep the bad guys wondering who is and who is not packing. More and more everyday citizens are taking the class to carry and buying guns. Nothing wrong with this at all. Slow down a little and don’t leave home without it. Otherwise if the cops are concerned when they see open carry—then give us a badge.

  8. Sedition on January 21st, 2016 7:01 am

    How about the cops shut their doughnut holes and enforce Constitutional law?
    Are they the only ones anointed enough to open carry? Can’t let the subjects enjoy their Constitutional rights?
    I would suggest that those that hold that opinion go and find another line of work.
    When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.
    When the government fear the people, there is freedom.

  9. jeeperman on January 21st, 2016 6:41 am

    Are they trying to alter or replace the existing portion of Florida Statute 790.053 ?

    “It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person,”

    Which appears to cover what is in the article.