The push to reform Florida gun laws to restore open carry rights has gained significant momentum in the last few weeks. First, on October 5th, the licensed Open Carry bill, HB-163, passed the Florida House Criminal Justice sub-committee, with an 8-4 vote. Second, one day later, the Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear a constitutional challenge to the Florida Open Carry ban in the Norman v. State (Florida) (PDF) case. The Florida Sheriff's Association, using rather heavy-handed tactics, came out against the open carry bill in the middle of October .
Now the Florida Police Chiefs Association has said that it will support the open carry reform if some changes designed to protect peace officers are included. From new-journalonline.com:
A spokeswoman confirmed that the police chiefs' group had contacted the sponsors of the proposal (SB 300/HB 163), Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and his son, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, who both say they're on board with the changes.The amendments have not been filed yet, but do not appear to be deal-breakers. They are reported to include four proposals:
"The police chiefs understand that momentum is building," association spokeswoman Sandi Poreda said. "And because of their concerns for police officers' safety, they wanted to go ahead and reach out to the bill sponsors and work on these amendments, which they believe will better protect officers."
- Excluding people who display firearms intentionally in an angry or threatening manner, not necessarily in self defense
- Change "probable cause" to "reasonable suspicion" of a crime before stopping or investigating people openly carrying firearms
- Including immunity for police officers conduct investigations allowed by law
- Including a requirement that open carry be in a holster
Arguments against the law have a difficult time contending with the fact that open carry is legal in 44 states; that Texas becomes the 45th state on 1 January, 2016, and that Florida had legal open carry until 1987, when Janet Reno vigorously lobbied to have the current law passed in an special legislative session without ordinary debate or public input.
Pinellas County Sheriff Gualtieri, who spearheaded the action against open carry in the Sheriffs Association, postulated some hypothetical dangers to open carriers, none of which have happened in the 44 states that already have open carry.
HB-163, the House bill, has passed the House. SB-300, the Senate version of the bill is in the Senate Judiciary committee.
The terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have increased momentum for these bills. Police chiefs and sheriffs all over the country are calling citizens to carry arms for their protection. Those calls are being met with overwhelming support from the citizenry.
We should know if Florida will become the latest state to restore open carry, and the 46th state to at least give minimal support to the "bear" half of the Second Amendment's right to "keep and bear arms".
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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