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NRA Slams Florida Sheriffs Association on Open Carry Bill

November 11, 2015 - 8:30pm

Laws set to ease up on gun control in Florida may not have passed through the Florida Legislature yet, but they're already pitting gun groups against each other in a bitter battle over whether or not the state will be safer if more concealed carry permit holders can carry their guns in public places.

A bill from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, are working in tandem on a proposal which would allow concealed carry permit holders to openly carry their firearms in Florida.

The father and son duo says Florida should join the 45 other states which allow open carry and say permit holders should be allowed to carry their guns since they are already well-trained in firearm proficiency. 

Thirty states do not require any license to carry unconcealed and 15 states allow concealed permit holders to choose to carry openly or concealed at their own discretion.

But some groups like the Florida Sheriffs Association, which represents sheriffs statewide, have already come out in vehement opposition to the legislation. The FSA has voiced several concerns with the bill, saying it is too broad and doesn't have enough limits.

The FSA also said the new law would make it difficult for police officers to ensure public safety and criticized the bills for omitting gun training and holstering requirements. A survey conducted by the group found 70 percent of sheriffs statewide are opposed to the bill. The Palm Beach Post reported 47 of the state’s 67 sheriffs were opposed to the legislation.
Some sheriffs are still in support of the legislation, but the group on the whole is not on board with open carry in general.
The FSA's opposition to open carry gathered the attention of the National Rifle Association, which has been a staunch advocate of the bill in recent months. The NRA has already lashed out at the Florida Sheriffs Association, with former NRA president Marion Hammer criticizing the organization for perpetuating "false information" about the new legislation.
Hammer recently penned an op-ed in the Tallahassee Democrat, slamming the FSA for "erroneous claims" regarding the proposed legislation.
The NRA says the bill is sound and has many restrictions which make open carry generally safe for Florida. The group defended the legislation, rebuffing claims that the law lacked limits for how or where firearms could be carried.
"Only a person with a license to carry concealed will be allowed to carry openly," Hammer wrote. "Further, the FSA spokesman knows a clarification amendment has been added to the bill just to stop false claims."
Hammer also tried to debunk the FSA claim that open carry wouldn't work in Florida and isn't working in states where it's legal.
"Opponents have presented no evidence that open carry isn’t working in any state and no evidence of problems in any state," she wrote. "Simply because different states have variations in their laws does not in any way alter the fact that open-carry is working."
Hammer also took issue with the FSA's claim that Florida wasn't like other states demographically, saying the majority of Americans live in open-carry states, so Florida wouldn't be much of a unique case of increased gun violence.
"Seventy percent of the American public live in open-carry states," she said. "Many of the 45 open-carry states have large and diverse cities just like Florida, and where you live geographically, whether it’s Trilby, Fla., or Fanning Springs, Fla., you have the same constitutional rights as citizens who live in Miami, Tampa or Orlando."

Other gun groups are rallying in support of the bill. Pro-gun group Florida Carry started an online petition to Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature asking them to legalize open carry in Florida.

Rep. Matt Gaetz says the legislation is important for strengthening Floridians' right to bear arms and is necessary for concealed carry permit holders to exercise their Second Amendment freedoms.

"[I'd] like to see Florida on the list of states that enhances peoples’ rights, makes people stronger,” said Rep. Gaetz on the bill.

The legislation has already flown through several committees, passing easily despite being the subject of intense debate.

Both the Senate and House versions of the legislation will hit the Florida Legislature in January for the 2016 regular legislative session.


FACTS ABOUT FLORIDA'S OPEN CARRY BILL Despite the misinformation peddled to the press, these are the facts: 1. This bill only applies to handguns. Nothing in this bill would authorize the open carry of long guns – rifles or shotguns. 2. Nothing in this bill in any way impacts the private property rights of others – not of businesses and not of private individuals. 3. Only a person with a license to carry concealed may choose to carry openly. 4. The same restrictions that apply to carrying concealed will also apply to open carry. [ s.790.06 ] 5. No person may carry a firearm around in the hand or exhibit it in a rude careless, angry, or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense. To do so violates existing law. [ s.790.10 ] 6. A license holder is required -- by existing law -- to show the license to any law enforcement officer who wants to see it -- that's in the original law passed in 1987. [ s.790.06 (1) ] 7. Businesses have the right to deny entry, refuse service, and/or evict anyone they wish -- unless it's done on the basis of race, gender, or religion. It is common to see signs that say, "No shoes, no shirt, no service." Businesses should not be reluctant to post signs saying , "No open carrying of firearms." It's THEIR right. 8. Seventy percent (70%) of the American public live in open carry states from all regions of the country. Many of the 45 open carry states have large and diverse cities just like Florida. No matter where you live geographically, whether it's Trilby, Fla. or Fanning Springs, Fla., you have the same constitutional rights as citizens who live in Miami, Tampa, or Orlando. 9. Forty-five (45) states allow open carry of firearms. 15 of 45 open carry states require a license to carry concealed or openly. 30 of 45 open carry states DO NOT require any license to carry openly 0 of 15 carry license states require additional training to carry openly 0 of 45 states offer a separate "open carry" license 2 of 45 states require a holster to open carry. 0 of 45 states require a special retention holster. 5 of 15 are "may-issue" states where law enforcement issues licenses 15 of 15 states require the license holder to produce the license on lawful demand by a law enforcement officer. 10. Florida is 1 of 5 states that DO NOT allow Open Carry. The others are California, Illinois, New York and South Carolina. It's time for Florida to be in better company.

Most Sheriffs understand how much trouble this law could create. Imagine a police officer sees a poorly-dressed 20-year-old kid (imagine black or white, it makes no difference,) walk into a 7-11 with a .38 hanging out of his front pocket. No matter what the officer does, he will be second-guessed. If he follows the kid, he is profiling. If he ignores it, he might be putting people at risk.

A 20 year old cant carry a handgun legally. Please do your homework. Repeating false or unintelligent statements is one of America's biggest problems. we should all strive to understand all aspects of a situation before making comments in public forums. Wake up sheople. Follow your intellect.

The same EXACT argument was made when Florida went from an open carry state to concealed carry in 1987. There was concern that police wouldn't be able to tell good guys from bad guys because criminals tend to conceal weapons they are not allowed to have in the first place. How the same argument against open carry could be used against concealed carry is beyond me.

The Sheriffs Association is lying. Before I lent my support to this legislation, I spoke with City Police Officers, Sheriffs Deputies, and State Troopers, and they all, each and every one, supported the Open Carry for Permit holders. So we have elected Sheriffs that are against the U.S. Constitutional right to bear arms. These elected sheriffs have set themselves up to disagree with the U.S. Constitution. These Sheriffs of Nottingham have lost all credibility. I would bet that the one's against our constitutional right to bear arms are democrats. It figures. Name the elected Sheriffs that are against the open carry.

So every time someone disagrees with you it is because they hate freedom and don't understand the Constitution? You are saying there isn't even the slightest chance they arrived at their opinion through independent thought? You argue like a five-year-old.

NRA against the Sheriff's Association again. Who would have thought. Just an aside.... perhaps you should do some homework and find a replacement for your continual use of "slams" when used as a verb.

I agree. TOO many headlines belie facts and are engineered simply to get people to stay on the webpage longers to generate ad revenue. Whatever happened to impartial factual reporting?

I find it hilarious that past NRA President Marion Hammer is today "supporting" Open Carry when back in 2011 she lashed out at Open Carry while defending her support of gutting Florida's Open Carry bill which the governor had said he would sign. And let us not forget last year when the NRA sent out a press release saying that people who openly carry firearms are weirdos. Finally, NRA lawyer Paul Clement argued before 11 judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last June that states can ban Open Carry while defending California's 1967 ban on openly carrying loaded firearms. A ban the NRA not only supported but helped write. I realize that nobody will bother to read the NRA briefs which argued to uphold both California's Open Carry ban as well as California's Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995 (yes, the NRA supports gun-free school zones where it hurts the most, in court) but you can take a minute to watch the video segment where the NRA lawyer tells the court that states can ban Open Carry ->

Name those states

Remove Texas, in which open carry is legal beginning Jan.1 Wsj dot com/articles/BL-NB-1715

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