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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.


Experience in America prior to the U.S. Constitution Ideals that helped to inspire the Second Amendment in part are symbolized by the minutemen.[47] Early English settlers in America viewed the right to arms and/or the right to bear arms and/or state militias as important for one or more of these purposes (in no particular order):[48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55] enabling the people to organize a militia system. participating in law enforcement; deterring tyrannical government;[56] repelling invasion; suppressing insurrection, allegedly including slave revolts;[57][58][59] facilitating a natural right of self-defense.

First of all, there are 45 states in the union that have open carry. You don't hear anything about "wild wild west" shootouts. As a matter-of-fact if you did some research instead of spouting off liberal BS you would learn some things about the 2nd amendment and open carry. But, if you are a liberal that won't read anything or check facts there is no hope for you.

Where can you buy a machine gun? Seriously, I go to my gun shop/range weekly and I don't know anyone who owns a machine gun. Also, 45 other states have open carry, and none of them has turned into "the Wild West" because if it. Sorry, but my right to protect myself trumps your irrational fear. BTW:I'm a Democrat.

Quite right. Though it's legal to own a machine gun, you have to have a Class III license and there has never been a holder of that license that has ever used a machine gun in a felony, Ever.

Politics never should have a role when it comes to protecting your life and your family's life. I agree with you completely.

Sometimes by the time police get to your aid its to late .They are under paid and over worked and can't possible be everywhere on time .bottom line is goverment and state officials should look into the sales of firearms on the net that require no background check and fall into criminals hands without any checks

There is no legal sale of firearms on the net that doesn't require the firearm to be delivered to a legal firearms FFL and they preform the background check. It's against exsisting federal law to ship a firearm to anyone but a licensed FFL from out of state or instate.

Until Judiciary Chairman Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, the RINO has his say.... The Senate companion bill will never be put on the calendar in his committee, just like Campus Carry. Diaz de la Portilla has been bought and paid for by Bloomberg's Anti-Gun Millions..... Sad to say...... Every Bill deserves to be debated and voted on in every committee it is required to go through.... If Diaz de la Portilla likes One-Man Rule, he should move his family to CUBA. The Castro Brothers will be delighted.

I was cornered in my car a few months ago by an idiot who was enraged by an imagined slight. I had my 10 yo son with me. I called the Cops and it took them 15 minutes to make it to me. I bought a gun a week later and carry it everyday. If you want to rely on LEO'S to protect you, then good luck. Remember you don't need a gun, until you need one badly.

I am having a hard time determining who was the idiot in your statement: the one who imagined slight, or the one imagined using DEADLY FORCE for such - sick!

You're right. Would have been much easier to throw her 10 year old at the nut so she could escape without hurting the perpetrator. You can easily tell who has the guns. When things go bad he will be the one with the most liberals hiding behind him.

...and if you don't have it with you when you do need it,.. you will NEVER never need it again.

If you have a concealed weapon permit, why would you want to carry openly????? To show your moncho or something ???? It is going to be very confusing to the public as to who is the good guy or who is the bad guy who also be open carrying?????

Carrying a concealed firearm suggests to a criminal that you are unarmed. Every study says that criminals will avoid an armed person or home when selecting a victim. I do not understand the advantage of appearing to be unarmed. As Ed Levine, founder of Virginia Open Carry, has stated, the probability of me being a victim of a violent crime is completely unchanged by the fact that I have a gun hidden beneath my shirt. My goal is not to be a victim in the first place. I don’t want to have to shoot someone.  Few people will attack an open carrier. If you feel better concealing, that’s fine. If I can, I prefer to stop the threat before it turns into a physical reality. If you think that it’s better to stop a threat using your surprise tactics once you’re on your back getting your head smashed in, then that’s your decision.

Simple, The bad guy won't have his gun holstered it will be pointed at your head.

Good question. Why not ask the millions who have the ability to open carry in the 45 other states. Vast majority he never open carry where it is legal. It's more a safeguard to keep from getting arrested should my weapon be exposed. Stop with all the Imaginary negatives. 45 states allow open carry have you ever seen anyone carrying?

Florida LEO has been disregarding the law passed in 2011 that made it not a misdemeanor have an accidental display of a concealed weapon and have been harassing Conceal Carry Permit-holders.... This bill puts teeth into stopping the harassment. "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. "

These clowns are killing our 'Sunshine State' and taking the side of guns rather than peaceful citizens. Protection is what we hire law enforcement to do. If we have weapons, and I do, I'll use them if someone tries to, or actually enters my home. I look forward to one of these dastardly elected officials to come to my door uninvited!

While that was meant for humor the underlying truth is the same. Bad guys seldom act like bad guys when a cop is present. They wait until you are alone and vulnerable. I cannot prevent being alone at times. However, I am never vulnerable.

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

Cops carry guns to protect themselves, not you. You're a jerk.

Have you seen how many unarmed citizens are murdered by criminals as well as the police.


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