Wednesday, May 29, 2013

FL:Constitutional Challenge to Prohibition of Open Carry

A Florida constitutional challenge to their open carry ban is going forward.

On 19 February, 2012, Dale Norman, who had recently been issued a concealed carry license, was arrested for openly carrying a firearm in a holster on his hip. The weight of the pistol had caused his shorts to sag, exposing part of the pistol, attracting the attention of at least one member of the public, who brought it to the attention of the police, who arrested Mr. Norman.

The court found Mr. Norman guilty, but refused to rule on several constitutional issues.

1. Is Florida’s statutory scheme related to the open carry of firearms constitutional?

2. Do the exceptions to the prohibition against open carry constitute affirmative defenses to a prosecution for a charge of open carry or does the State need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular defendant is not conducting him/herself in the manner allowed?

3. Does the recent “brief and open” display exception unconstitutionally infect the Open Carry Law by its vagueness? writes:
The County Court has certified the constitutional questions directly to the 4th District Court of Appeals as questions of great public importance. The DCA has accepted jurisdiction.

The Florida Attorney General's Office filed an extraordinary motion with the Florida Supreme Court attempting to prohibit the 4th District Court of Appeals from hearing the case. Mr. Norman's Attorney filed a motion to strike or deny the Attorney General's baseless motion. On April 19th, 2013 the Florida Supreme Court denied the AG's attempt to derail the appeal to the 4th DCA.

This looks like a very interesting case, if for no other reason than the effort put forward by the State to try to prevent the case from being heard.

An initial brief on the merits of the case has now been heard by the appeals court.

The Appellee's date for answering the brief is currently 21 June, 2013.

Dean Weingarten

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