Thursday, March 13, 2014

FL:Open Carry Prompts Curiosity

Florida is one of five states that generally ban the open carry of firearms.  As with all such states, exemptions to the general ban are included in the law.  Florida second amendment supporters are pushing for a restoration of open carry rights in the state.  They have organized a number of open carry events under the exception for open carry to, from, and during fishing in the State.

 Spacecoast321 at relates what happened when he attempted to join one of these events a few days ago (March 2014):
Well after a lengthy hiatus I was finally able to go the Open Carry fishing event in Melbourne. Sadly I RSVP'd too late, about an hour before the event, on MeetUp and the host (I later found out) had gone to a different event. I arrived and noted I was the only one there, but decided to stay and fish a little (I do enjoy it, I'm just not any good at it).

Talked to a fellow fisherman for about an hour, he never commented on my very visible chrome 1911, we were too busy talking about fishing.

A seemingly retired couple did walk onto the dock and engage me in conversation. The man was hostile in tone and questions, the female was simply curious.

Man, "I sure hope you are a police officer!" Me, "Nope". Man, "Are you expecting trouble?" Me, "I sure hope not". Man, "You expecting a shark?" Me, "No, but it is always better to eat than be eaten".

Woman, "Do you need a special type of permit to carry it (my firearm) like that?" Me, "No, the Florida statutes have exemptions for some activities like fishing, hunting, shooting (told her there was a 4th but it slipped my mind). And while traveling engaged in those activities." Woman, "My daughter has a pistol and practices with it a lot. Can she have it on the seat next to her in the car?" Me, "No. It has to be encased in some manner. Either a case of some kind, in the glove box or in the trunk." I inquired if her daughter had a Concealed Carry permit and strongly recommended she acquire one.

The woman continued to have a very pleasant conversation with me, and openly lamented that there were too many laws. Her apparently annoyed male companion walked away.

That 5 minute encounter made my day. Lots of reading posts from other states where Open Carry is legal left me ready to deflect the hostile questions with short answers and an even demeanor. I believe that opened the door for the truly curious questions.

It is always curious to me that those people who oppose Open Carry for whatever reason feel no fear to approach someone who is practicing it and be hostile, critical and argumentative.

ps (I did remember that camping was the 4th exemption, but the conversation had already moved on)
The encounter with an argumentative person is a bit unusual.  Friendly education, as with the woman who was curious about open carry, occurs far more commonly than argument or police interaction.  

The four exemptions for the open carry of firearms mentioned above are in Florida statute 790.25(3).

(h) A person engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting or going to or returning from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting expedition;

(j) A person firing weapons for testing or target practice under safe conditions and in a safe place not prohibited by law or going to or from such place;
 There are numerous other specific exemptions that are in the law, such as being a member of the militia "when training or preparing themselves for military duty".

Another exemption in the code, 790.053,allows for someone who is legally carrying a concealed weapon to "briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person"  as long as it is not in an angry or threatening manner.

Open carry is becoming mainstream as more and more second amendment supporters use the method to educate the public.      Long gun open carry is legal in Texas, while open carry of modern handguns is not.   Texans have organized significant numbers of open carry marches as a way of educating the public while pushing for legal open carry of handguns.  It seems to be working.   In Texas,  candidates for governor for both the Democrat and Republican parties have endorsed the restoration of legal open carry of handguns.   Texas is likely to pass legal open carry legislation in 2015, reducing the number of states that ban open carry to four.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch 

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