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Florida House Green Lights Open Carry Bill

February 3, 2016 - 7:45pm

Florida inched one step closer to becoming the 46th state in the country to allow concealed weapons permit holders to openly carry their firearms in public after the House passed a bill supporting the measure by a vote of 80-38.

The bill, HB 163, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, would make it legal for anyone with a concealed weapons permit to openly carry their firearm in public. Current Florida law does not allow CCW permit holders to openly carry.

Anyone who willfully infringes on concealed weapons permit holders’ right to openly carry (like law enforcement officers) would face a $5,000 fine. Government entities who try to infringe upon the open carry rule could face an even higher penalty of $100,000 for infringing on CCW permit holders’ right to carry.

Gaetz’s legislation has been one of the hottest bills to move through the Florida Legislature during this year’s legislative session, with many members disagreeing on whether the proposal would be a good idea for the people of Florida. 

Those opposed to the law say it’s a bad idea for Florida since the state relies so heavily on tourism to boost its economy. Some law enforcement groups and city mayors around the state have already voiced similar concerns over the legislation, saying it would make law enforcement officers' jobs more difficult and would be bad for some of the state’s thriving areas like the Tampa Bay region.

Some state lawmakers agreed. 

“It's bad for tourism...because [of] public safety,” said Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg. “People don't feel very comfortable when everyone's toting guns.”

Others said openly carrying a firearm wasn’t a “God-given” right.

"Let's stop acting like guns is the solution to reducing crimes and protecting our citizens,” said Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa. "None of us was born with a 40 caliber attached to our umbilical cord."

But Republicans said being allowed to openly carry firearms was a constitutional right which should be granted to law-abiding Floridians who have open carry permits. 

"This bill is so much more than [open carry],” said Rep. John Wood, R-Winter Haven. “[It's] about protecting our citizens from our government."

"Stop impeding on the constitutional right of the people,” said Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gaetz, also refuted claims that legalizing open carry would lead to more gun violence in Florida.

“People are shooting less in states that allow open carry,” Gaetz explained, pointing to other states where open carry is legal.

It's currently legal for gun owners to carry handguns openly in 30 states without a license or permit, while 15 states require a license to carry openly. If the Florida Legislature approves the measure, Florida would become the 46th state to allow open carry.

The bill’s Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, is likely to move forward in that chamber. 




Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.


I am a law enforcement officer for the state of Florida and I am completely behind this bill. I agree that our rights to keep and bear arms have been violated to an extent. Most of the time when you hear about a crime or shooting that has occurred it is done in a gun free Zone I guarantee you that if there were law abiding citizens openly carrying these criminals would be deterred from such heinous acts. Take a step back and look at the facts, I have visited many open carry states and they indeed do openly carry and there is no mass histeria and the crime rate is extremely low compared to non open carry states. I will say that along with this law there should be a section included about certain weapon holsters that need to be purchased in order to open carry such as a level I, II or III. as well as a additional course of weapon retention. As a law enforcement officer we are trained in weapon retention and I believe it is important if people will be openly carrying so that they do not become a victim from some drugged up street punk that trys to take your weapon. Just my two cents.

So why don't they just change the law to say if you carry concealed & accidentally flash your weapon that there are no penalties. Its ridiculous as it is now Lets say your shopping somewhere & carrying concealed, you bend over to pick something up & your shirt lifts enough to see a holstered gun, someone sees it & calls the police on you, For WHAT? Yes the law needs to be changed.

They have changed the law , Gov. Scott put that into law a few years ago.


Simply put, there is a deterrent value to openly carrying. Truthfully, many don’t notice but if a criminal does he will pick another victim. Statistics are hard to come by here, but there is much anecdotal evidence. One of the most famous cases that made the news was the Kennesaw, Georgia, Waffle House robbery that was avoided simply because there were open carry armed citizens sitting in there eating.  What is not so well known is that there are many police reports in which criminal suspects who were taken into custody stated that they saw people openly carrying firearms in a business and postponed their attack until they left.

I lived in Kennesaw for about 14 years. It is law for homeowners to own a firearm. Has been since the 1980's. Home invasion are almost zero,( the idiots that aren't from there) usally get shot in the process . Open carry is new, but to democrats dismay and the anti gun movement, open Carry accidents are very very low. Period ..

"Bad for tourism"? Are you kidding me? Let's protect the tourists and surrender all our rights so as not to offend a foreigner. This is idiocy! You go to Israel, the place is packed with guns and people feel safe. Who are the tourists? Brazilians - one of the most violent country on the planet. French - allowed to own and carry. Germans - goes without saying. Norwegians - living next door to crazy Putin you would be nuts not to own a gun. Chinese - the most militarized and policing state on the planet. Canadians - practically a family. Sorry liberals, but you have no argument. However, those who you see on YT parading with guns on their streets and taunting law enforcement are morons, acting out their unfulfilled heroic dreams and their licenses should be revoked as they do more damage to the cause than good. As long as we have dangerous government, we should be able to defend ourselves. Two brave young people who exposed the biggest mass murder of unborn babies in America are sitting today in jail instead of the planned parenthood psychopaths. This is just one example of what kind of government we have, and what their agenda is. If they have no problems killing babies, guess what they will do to you. I want to live my life and die in dignity, and not to be gunned down by some idiot punk on drugs or overzealous cop. My home is my sanctuary and my space is sacred. It's all about the culture of gun owning, and I can exhibit more restrain then any government beaurocrat who forgot his job is to serve.

The whole issue is that if you are carrying a concealed gun legally (like I do) and by accident the gun becomes exposed briefly and someone notices it and calls the Cops, you can get arrested and prosecuted even though you are a law abiding citizen with a CCW License. (Criminals don't abide by the laws). To avoid that happening, HB-163 would resolve that issue. Even if approved, I would still carry concealed at all times but will feel more comfortable if my weapon becomes exposed briefly cause at this point, I'm always pulling my shirt down to avoid having the gun exposed.

Exactly, & whats is concealed for for the surprize


I agree. I carry a concealed weapon all the time especially when I ride my Harley. I have been accosted, threatened and even been forced of the road by people then threatened with a violent reaction. I have only had to pull my weapon once and that was when the other person pulled a knife on me. Than goodness there was a cop that saw the whole incident and sided with me. I will continue to carry concealed but it will be nice not to have to go out of the way to make sure my weapon does not get accidently exposed.

I live in a rural area of Florida. Last April I made a quick run to Publix. On the way back I witnessed a very serious car accident and after assisting as much as I could I was asked by the police for my ID and a statement. When I got out my drivers license he saw my CCW permit and asked if I was carrying. Since my run to the store was short and quick I forgot to pick up my Glock. When I told the cop I had left it at home he nicely chewed me out for NOT having it on me at all times. He let me know that they cannot be everywhere and that even if I only protect myself and my family it was my responsibility to do so. So, while some sheriff's may not support open carry, probably because they are elected and don't want to be voted out by liberals, the officers that work for them feel different.

That is already a law ,passed last year. You can expose a gun in a non threatening way.

But over zealous cops and states attorney are still arresting and locking up gun owners that thier weapons are accidental exposures and ruining people's lives

Hold the applause and boos. It's not law until passed by the Senate and signed by the Gov. And that's not a sure bet by a long shot.

When is the open carry law supposed to go into affect, assuming that the governor signs it? I cannot seem to find a timeline. Thanks

Almost Half of 184 People Killed by Georgia Cops Since 2010 Were Unarmed and/or Shot in the Back.

Cops carry guns to protect themselves. Not you. If you've traveled to one of the 45 states that permit open carry, have you ever seen anyone openly carrying a firearm? No. Libs looking to create hysteria across a completely uninformed and Bill advised general public Libs looking to create hysteria across a completely uninformed ill advised general public. This "open carry" law protects me from one of these citizens freaking out because they saw my gun while I was exiting my vehicle, etc.

Open Carry is permitted in Arizona and Tennessee. as well as many other states. In answer to your question above, Yes, I have been to these 2 states in the last 6 months at which time I saw several OCers. No mass hysteria ensued. It was No Big Thing. Anyone with a CCW permit has been though a thorough vetting process, This does not allow anyone to carry any more than anyone without a CCW permit may carry concealed. The same hysteria was rampant when Florida allowed concealed carry. No wild west antics followed,

It's time our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT be restored.

The intention of the 2nd Amendment was not to guarantee that you get to carry machine guns into a grocery store. It had to do with defending our country from invasion. What about my right to enjoy a peaceful existence without addicts to violence like you and the NRA sticking guns in my face everywhere I turn! The Wild West was "wild" because innocent people (including children) were killed on a minute-by-minute basis. Now you want to impose this idiocy on minors attending college campuses as well. Next, you will demand that toddlers must carry guns to nursery school! Where will this end except in bloody disaster? We are supposed to be making progress not regressing into utter insanity.

I guess you would be okay with some looney trying to kill you or family, or co-workers or friends and all you would be willing to do is dial 911 and hope for the best! what kind of man are you? i'll bet you were never even in the military, cause you served four years in the boy scouts and thought that was a tour of duty to protect our country and the constitution.

Just look to the states that allow open carry , is thier really a problem or is some one just telling you there is one open your eyes and look at the facts for your self instead of beging a key board commando

you need to read about the old west only the movie made the old west wild, you will find that all the cowboys carried a rifle to eat with and a side arm to kill ground snakes or the likes not for dueling

Your comment sounds like someone who has been stuck in a closet listening to Obama and Clinton to the point that you are no longer in the reality zone. Al of this that you are so concerned about never has happened anywhere since the late 1800's and won't happen now and that has been proven by all the other states that have RESTORED our 2nd amendment rights. and by the way machine guns are classified as weapons that fire in a fully automatic mod, the last time I checked those were still illegal to have unless you posses a FFL and even then you still can not take it anywhere except to those designated places that your license specifies. A for those DEMS that have this THING about so called ASSAULT weapons, it is also illegal for anyone without a FFL to purchase or own one. An AR-15 is a semi automatic riffle it has a caliber of .223 that is the same caliber that has been sold to the general public as a VARMIT gun for many years both bolt action and semi-automatic. The same goes with the AK-47 It has a caliber of 7.62MM that comes out as a .308 the same caliber that has been sold also the general public both bolt action and semi-automatic. They are just modeled after the military style small arms issued to most military in the world. So when it comes down to the FOOLISH NOTION that people are suddenly going to be carrying machine guns into the bakery is NUTS and a little off balance. Most of us have been carrying a concealed weapons for years and you probably didn't even know it, so just how blind have you been to what is going on around you? The states that allow open carry have less street crime than those that don't and if you doubt that just look at the crime rate in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago anywhere that strict ILLEGAL gun laws forbid the LAW ABIDING CITIZEN from protecting themselves and there families. A negative vote for the 2nd Amendment is a YES vote for the CRIMINALS and then again you might just be ANTI-AMERICAN CONSTITUTION like most DEMS.....

You make no sense, No one in the NRA has ever stuck a gun in your face. Those (if allowed) in colleges would have to be vetted just like anyone else. Most people with your position on issues like this have no idea what you have to go through to have a Concealed Carry License. Pictures, finger prints, classes, background checks, no felonies etc. Do you get worried when the police walk though a store with a firearm? The vetting is the same. Who would you rather have walking around in your presence, someone who's gone through the above vetting that is absolutely not a criminal (and can prove it) or those who are criminals and won't follow the law (or a able to pass the background checks) and you don't know who they are?

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." So who were these people that they should write such a thing as the #2 amendment preceded only by Freedom of Speech? These were the same men involved in the writing of the Declaration of Independence which states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." The framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that followed were not speaking about citizens protecting themselves against an invasion from outside. They wanted to guarantee the people the ability to do exactly what they had just been forced to do: Abolish an oppressive and corrupt government. The 2nd amendment was written to protect us from our own government should the need arise. Is the US Government so oppressive and corrupt where it needs to be abolished? No! However, history has shown us in other countries and over centuries that it is prudent that the citizens of the United States be prepared to protect and defend the Constitution so many men and women have died to preserve. in short; When the government fears the people there is Liberty.

Your hysterical! Take your medicine and go lay down.

First, get your facts right. This bill only covers those who are completely qualified and process concealed carry permits. They're sitting next to you in the restaurant anyway. But most importantly the reason it is the second amendment is because it was designed to protect all the other amendments. And by the way minors cannot possess a concealed carry permit unless they are in the military defending your sorry ass.

Well said


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