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Florida Sheriffs Association Fights Back Against Gun Groups on Sheriff's Open Carry Statements

December 14, 2015 - 5:45pm
Bob Gualtieri
Bob Gualtieri

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri caused an uproar with gun rights activists last week for comments about concealed carry permit holders, prompting the Florida Sheriffs Association to contend Gualtieri’s remarks were taken out of context 

Last week, Gualtieri made comments saying Floridians exercising their Second Amendment rights under legislation to legalize open carry would be “thrown down on the ground with a gun pointed at them — or worse,” and that concealed carry permit holders who unknowingly enter a bank during a robbery would “take one in the chest because [they’re] a threat.”

Gualtieri also said if a permit holder walked into a bank during a robbery, they would become a prime target for an active shooter because they’re a threat. 

The remarks were originally reported by the News Service of Florida, but now, the Florida Sheriffs Association, which represents sheriffs statewide, says the sheriff’s remarks were taken out of context. 

“To set the record straight, Sheriff Gualtieri never told the reporter that an officer would be at a ‘crime scene’ and react when seeing a firearm,” read an email from the Florida Sheriffs Association sent Monday. “His full statement is clear that he was talking about a hypothetical, in-progress situation and the challenges faced by law enforcement officers in determining the law-abiding citizen with a gun from a criminal who could be a potential threat to the officer at a disturbance or other situation.”

The FSA went on to say Gualtieri’s comments about a hypothetical bank robbery did not indicate law enforcement officers would shoot a concealed carry permit holder, only that someone openly carrying a firearm would be a target for the bank robber.

 “During the past 2 legislative sessions, Sheriff Gualtieri has been at the Capitol advocating for sheriffs on numerous bills that would impact public safety,” said Sheriff Sadie Darnell, President of the FSA.  

The group has already said it opposes the new proposal to legalize open carry for concealed carry permit holders, believing instead that Florida must enact “sensible changes” on current laws to create enhanced protections for concealed carry permit holders.

But the FSA’s  stance has gathered significant criticisms from pro-gun groups like the National Rifle Association, which came out in full fury against the FSA’s stance on the bill.

"Opponents have presented no evidence that open carry isn’t working in any state and no evidence of problems in any state," wrote NRA past president and current lobbyist Marion Hammer. "Simply because different states have variations in their laws does not in any way alter the fact that open-carry is working." 

Another pro-gun group, Florida Carry, also criticized Sheriff Gualtieri’s remarks. 

“Even after the outright lies he was telling about the Open Carry bill were exposed in the press, the sheriff continues to act as a purveyor of falsehoods and irrational fear,” the group wrote in an alert sent last week. 

The new law (SB 300/HB 163), sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, would allow concealed carry permit holders over the age of 21 to carry their firearms in Florida.

The Sunshine State would join the 45 other states allowing the practice if the bill passes through the Florida Legislature this year. 

The regular legislative session begins Jan. 12.



Virginia has always been an open carry state. No problems other than having to educate the police, on occasion. The fool who are squealing about "wild west" etc. are just that, fools.

I don't plan to open carry in FL, but I do carry concealed. We need an "open carry" law for those instances when someone accidentally see's my concealed carry gun, perhaps when my coat opens unexpectedly, and calls the Police because "they saw a gun". People just need to get used to seeing guns on law-abiding citizens without going overboard in fear and loathing.

None of the Gun Carriers that I have met carry their guns in Open Carry. That's for more than one reason. They don't want to draw attention to themselves. If a Private Business has a NO GUNS sign, the carrier is likely to keep it concealed to bring their gun anyway. That is because NO GUNS signs do not carry any weight of law. IT is only considered a Trespass Violation if you are asked and refuse to leave.

Excuse me, I was referring to the situation in my state. Not Florida.

The Legislature already fixed that a couple of years ago.

Wrong. Numerous persons have been arrested for violations of 790.053 after the subjective "brief exposure" language was enacted. As an alleged lawyer, you should know that.

As a former resident of FL. I remember how the "FL Sheriffs Asses" left one of their own out hanging in the wind. The Sheriff of Liberty County was persecuted by a notorious State's Atty in a case that if it had prevailed would have made Sheriffs state wide mere employees and subservient to States Attys in the day to day running of their departments and their deputies. The FL Sheriffs Ass is a liberal progressive outfit unfortunately. Herr Gruppen Fuhrer Gualtieri has made ludicrous, lying statements regarding "Open Carry". He has threatened CC citizens before. He also opposed the Gun Evacuation Bill preferring to leave citizens defenseless in an evacuation, plus letting looters have a field day in the evacuated homes with guns left behind. I now live in the Free State of GA. with open and concealed carry of handguns......Gasp! Even in Atlanta! a rather large city, that Herr Gualtieri said would be impossible to do in Fl. In GA.Long gun open carry doesn't even require a permit, open carry is allowed in all Gov. Buildings that don't have security screening and guards, police aren't allowed to ask for a permit from a citizen open carrying in a non threatening manner, without a probable cause of a law violation, other than permitting license! GA citizens can buy a weapon and take it home immediately with out having to have a weapon permit, only the background check being required. Hello Florida! GA is doing just fine no wild west here!

Am I for open carry? Yes! Absolutely, if that is what floats your boat! I personally carry concealed. I do so because it leaves in place an element of surprise that the bad guys have to respect. If you are open carrying, you are going to be the first person that gets shot when they pull out their weapons! I just only hope that I can get the bad guy before he gets you! Think about it!

And I agree with you, but you need to understand that I have a very solid reason to carry openly. When you carry openly, the bad guy doesn't try to rob the place, he picks a better, easier target. You worry about shooting him before he gets you... I'm not as John Wayne as you are - I prefer him to see that I'm not an easy target, and move on. Trust me, he's not THAT interested in the 20.00 he's going to get from the clerk.

Please regale us with the parade of examples of open carriers being shot in any of the other open carry states. The element of surprise is an offensive, not a defensive tactic. It does one little good to surprise an assailant when already at gunpoint. From a tactical standpoint, drawing from concealment takes .5 to 1.5 seconds longer on average time to target than does drawing from an open holster. When the average gunfight is over in 3 seconds or less, to espouse potentially wasting up to half that time clearing a cover garment as a tactical advantage is ludicrous. Finally to a criminal, a concealed carrier appears identical to an unarmed potential victim, thus inviting attack. An open carrier presents an easily avoidable, hard target, and allows them to simply choose another. Remember, criminals seek maximum reward for minimum risk.

You said it better than I did, but these comments opposing open carry are little more than ghost stories designed to make a person set aside common sense and see things from a fearful point of view. Criminals do not seek difficult or dangerous victims, they seek people who are easily cowed. If you asked a thousand people in prison if they would rob someone they knew to be armed, can you guess what they would say?

Open Carry will protect Concealed Carry, because despite laws to the contrary on momentary showing of a concealed gun liberal States Attys and liberal Sheriffs Depts are quick to prosecute. I costs them nothing riding on the public tax dole, while you pay thru the nose to defend yourself in court. A chilling effect these ProgreSSive Sheriffs like "Sadie" and "Bob" love to exploit.....but all for your safety of course!!! LOL!! Then there is their "revenue enhancement" preying on motorists, but that's another story, but really indicative of their view of the sheeple citizens to be sheared in their counties.

Norman vs, State is being elevated to the Florida Supreme Court. The law allows carrying to be regulated by law, but it says regulated, not banned. The restrictions in place now are de-facto bans, and cannot stand. But the biggest opponent of open carry is an A rated politicians named Portillo from Miami I think. He has personally stopped the open carry bill from making it to the floor of the House and Senate for at least three years.

The largest obstacle to being able to LEGALLY open carry here in Alabama where we now have the right legally, is not law enforcement, it is the businesses owners who post huge notices outside all businesses that say OPEN CARRY NOT ALLOWED HERE! It makes me so angry because they want my money but they are infringing on my legal right to open carry in public. It used to be only a few businesses had the notices but now it is the majority of them. It is insane!

Is to not shop there. Let them lose the money, and they will stop.

"The sky is falling.....the sky is falling." Not gonna happen Florida. I live in an "Open Carry State". I wear a well holstered pistol, all day, every day. The "dangers" you list here just do not happen. Most people do not notice the pistol and LEOs do not jump out of cars and prone me out. I am my own "first responder". I will not be a victim.

Well said.

I agree one hundred percent. Many Blessings to you!

Unfortunately the media takes many statements out of context. This may be the situation here. It is also unfortunate that the Florida Sherriff's Association appears to not back the open carry legislation. It's interesting to note that published yesterday was an article that the Florida Police Chief's Associated supported the same legislation. Personally, I'd rather have people with some training - even concealed carry training - to be permitted to open carry. Just the visual of several people in an establishment with weapons visible may be sufficient deterrent to criminals. Yes, there is always a chance for a mishap, but I suspect that there would be fewer injuries and death resulting from mishaps than if open carry were not permitted.

How? The same people currently carrying concealed would be those openly carrying. Why would their safety practices change?

That's because those who oppose open carry have two agendas. 1. Keep the death rate high. If more people are killed, then the issue stays in the papers, and legislation gets passed. 2. Keep people from exercising their right to free speech. Open carry is less about carrying, then it is about freedom of speech.

For the life of me this is the most insane thing I think I have ever heard. What is being demanded by the Citizen Population of Florida, and the Citizens of the Republic of United States of American, is the Florida Government stop infringing on the rights of citizens. Now this bill does not take away any criteria that now exists, these people would still have to meet all requirements of the Concealed Carry so it is not like they are allowing a new group of citizens to carry open that the state does not know. Further when I was serving in a law enforcement role I can tell you for a fact someone with the concealed weapon was of much more concern to me than someone who was carrying in the open. If they were open carrying I immediately knew they had a gun, the ones with concealed were unknowns, did they or did they not have a weapon (were they criminals or good guys) at least 90% of the time if they are carrying a gun in the open unless it is in their hand, they are very likely to be a good guy with a gun, 99% of criminals will conceal the weapon until they are ready to use it. Make the sheriffs of every county go take the stand under oath and define for the people why they will not support this law that would do nothing but protect people who are already allowed to carry from being accused by another person citizen or law enforcement that their weapon was showing in the open. It would also prevent over reach by law enforcement in that we already know some police officers have arrest CCW holders after they put the person in a situation that caused the weapon to become visible.

Thank You

Bobby Gualtieri made his comments and he'll have to live with them, regardless of how stupid his comments were. The best way to get back at him would be to contribute to a worthy opponent and oust him from his job as sheriff! Clearly, while he may be a nice guy, he's more of a boob than anything else!

Sheriff Rice was the last good sheriff in Pinellas. He wasn't an SS officer like Herr Gualtieri. Rice was an Administrator and man of the people, usually wearing a suit to work. Deputies were more friendly and acted as "peace officers", rather than "Law Enforcement". Pinellas County under Sheriff Gualtieri has had too many deputy scandals too.

My one vote turns to 4 when my family joins me at the polls. Mobilize and VOTE THEM OUT OF A JOB!

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