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Diaz de la Portilla: Open Carry is Dead for 2016 Session

February 17, 2016 - 6:00pm

Rest in peace. Open carry is officially dead in Florida -- at least for now.

On Wednesday, Senate Judiciary Committee chair Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, officially declared open carry dead for this year’s legislative session.

If passed, the legislation would have made it legal for concealed weapons permit holders to openly carry their firearms in the Sunshine State. The proposal was a father and son effort by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville.

As Senate Judiciary Committee chair, Diaz de la Portilla flexed his powerful political muscles by refusing to schedule the open carry legislation for a hearing, a move which effectively kills off the bill for this year’s legislative session. Bills must make their way through three committees before they are heard on the House or Senate floor.

The House portion of the legislation already had its time to shine on the House floor and was approved earlier this month, but without a Senate hearing, the bill can’t go anywhere. 

"Open carry is not going to happen; it's done," Diaz de la Portilla told reporters, according to the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

Open carry wasn’t the only fatality -- the Miami Republican also axed a bill to allow guns in airports by refusing to hear that bill as well.  

The legislation was a top priority for Rep. Gaetz and would have made Florida the 45th state in the country to allow open carry. 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.

Opponents of the legislation expressed fears Florida’s economy would suffer because tourists would not want to visit a state where residents could tote their firearms around publicly. 

Those opposed to the law said it was 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 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 of the bill’s opponents were pleased the proposal would be off the table this year.

“As Florida is a major family tourist destination, with miles of unspoiled beaches and incredible attractions, Diaz de La Portilla made the right decision for the state in acknowledging that families simply do not want to vacation where people are openly carrying deadly weapons in front of their children,” said Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of

The League of Women Voters of Florida, which had expressed hesitations over the legislation, thanked Sen. Diaz de la Portilla for killing off the bill.

Open carry was a 2016 legislative priority for the National Rifle Association, which worked overtime to push the legislation. Former NRA president and current lobbyist Marion Hammer explained to Sunshine State News that even if bills like open carry were killed off, they would keep being introduced until state lawmakers eventually passed them.

“Eventually, everything passes,” she told SSN earlier this month. “If it’s important enough to start, it’s important enough to finish. That’s why when folks keep asking ‘What if these bills don’t pass?’ Well, they’ll be back. If we file a bill, it will be back and back and back until it passes.”


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



One person should not have this amount of power to control what the entire body of senators should hear and vote on. My comment is not because I'm in favor of or oppose open carry, it's simply about the abuse of power this guy has. What other legislation can he block? The Florida Sentate needs to change their rules. The President of the Senate has the authority to override this, but he doesn't have the backbone to do it. It's a sad state of affairs in Florida politices. I hope the voters in South Florida realize what's going on and send him off to get a real job after the next election!

Mitch McConnell does it all the time.

You clearly don't understand the law nor the legislative process. Every session hundreds of bills die because they are not heard in committee. Committee Chairmen routinely exercise that prerogative because it is simply impossible to agenda and hear every bill. Senator Gaetz has used this tool and other procedures to keep legislation from being heard in many occasions. Please get an education before you post your ignorant comments.

This is why rinos should be forced out of the party!

Morons like you hurt the Republican Party. We RONALD Reagan Republicans need intelligent m, educated people in our party.

This is why rinos should be forced out of the party!

Hold your praises for the man who simply did what he was instructed to do. Had others really & truly wanted this bill to see the sunshine, there are ways to make it happen. de la Porthole did his job, as explained to him by Gaetz & Gaetz. Look for the approval in next year's session. So easy when the 'fix is in'.

To kill off what the majority of the public polling was in favor of is undemocratic. Whether I am for or against the bill matters not. This goes against the very framework of our democratic system. Unfortunately, ours has been broken for a very long time... It is government to the highest bidder, sadly...

He is being responsive to his constituency since he desires to be reelected. That's how representative democracy is supposed to work.

Exactly right. He represents South Florida. Republicans wouldnt even be in the game on the rest of their issues if folks like him and other moderate Republicans weren't elected. You dummies wanting all the "rinos" tossed out of the party are going to end up losing everything and having the entire state run by Democrats. Its an idiotic position to hold. There needs to be room in the Republican party for those who only agree with the party 75% of the time. Besides, open carry is foolish. Concealed carry is a much better option anyway. Why would you want an attacker to know you have a gun when you can keep him guessing! Good smart move by Senator Diaz DLP. I applaud him.

Your not too bright, are you?

Does this mean that Florida's gun nuts will have to wear codpieces for another year?

Can he carry in senate?

WHO THE F$@& IS THIS GUY? You should all be concerned that this is happening. One man? When did he become the king of Florida? His ass needs to be thrown out! I am in a state of shock. One man controlling the entire legislature! Shocking!

" I am in a state of shock. One man controlling the entire legislature! Shocking!"...... Why are you in shock ???.... The Miami RINO did the exact same thing with Campus Carry.... and he did the exact same thing with Campus Carry LAST YEAR.... He belongs in CUBA.

Thank you Senator for common sense.

Thank you. Usually republicans are too anti police.


So now commonsense is only liberal ideology? What about the 45 states (even very liberal states) that have already approved OC? They have no commonsense? By the numbers, 45:5, Florida is lacking in commonsense, under any reasonable understanding of commonsense.

Being a conformist doesn't equate to common sense...

Miguel Diaz de la Portilla has committed tyranny he should be killed for his actions.

You call yourself an American? You're not. Your response is the VERY reason that these laws are insane. For anyone who does not believe what you believe, you actually think you have the right to call for their death???????? Representational democracy (The United States of America) does not mean various groups get their way all the time. It means that elected officials need to do what is best for the ALL of electorate (including children). Just because other states have enacted insane laws due to pressure by the NRA (a fascist organization disguising itself behind the mask of freedom and individual rights) does not mean what they are doing is for the benefit of the electorate by any means. The NRA is and always has been a power-grabbing force of division and fear in this nation, right beside the Ku Klux Klan. Behind the curtain of their rhetoric are a few very wealthy, shadowy people fighting to establish an oligarchy. These people are only interested in domination and self-preservation, and they have no sympathy for you or for our democracy. They are Nazis rather than Americans. It is way past time to remove the curtain from the Wizard of Oz.

@Kym, YOU are wrong for writing someone is not an American because he/she has a different opinion than yours! Your comment is the VERY (?) reason there are laws! YOU have absolutely no business calling out any individuals for expressing their opinions. And, there is one special group which DOES "get their way all" of the time. Those are those pompous, elected officials who are alleged to be representing 'their' districts. In FACT, when the power play is on, the ruling power (this time Republicans) get everything they want. They received what DLP issued, after (I firmly believe) they all decided what THEY wanted and not necessarily what a voter wanted. If someone would check you'd most likely see that a majority of people in JLP's district favored the proposed 'carry' bill. All I'm saying Kim is, EVERYONE has a clear right to speak freely of their opinions without a tirade blasting them and calling them unAmerican because you differ! You Kim, are wrong.

Does ONE MAN deciding what bill gets heard by the entire Senate sound like Representational Democracy to you? The Senate Represents the entire State of Florida. One Senator from South Florida does not. This is a farce whether you are for OC or not. I'd expect more from somoeone with an Ed.D......

de la Portilla is politically dead to all of we Bill of Rights. freedom loving, Constitutionalists. We are the 'majority' you should be most concerned about at the polling places Miguel.

Not in Miami. He is very safe indeed. He will likely never be unseated. How is was selected as Judiciary Chair is beyond any sense.

Evidently de la Portilla is the new King of Florida. The entire House counts for nothing now. Just whatever the new King wants. No vote. No discussion. No debate. Just King Portilla and his minions to pick and choose what THEY want only. That's a pretty sad state of affairs.

Thank you Senator Diaz de la Portilla for your courage and integrity!


I agree. I have no desire to walk around downtown Tampa and see open sidearms all over the place. Get a permit, pass the background check and lawfully conceal your weapon. This open carry stuff is too much for me. And I am a dues paying member of the NRA. Thank God we have people with big sets of balls in politics that occasionally stand up for the right thing.


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