Tuesday, April 01, 2014

FL: Military Lawyer Misspoke on Concealed Carry Reform

FEMA - 11135 - Photograph by Jocelyn Augustino taken on 09-18-2004 in Florida

One of the last times people would want to be disarmed is during a widespread emergency, where responders are spread thinly and people may be forced to move from the safety of their home and neighborhood.

In order to protect second amendment rights during emergencies, a bill is in the Florida legislature to prevent firearms from being confiscated from people who are not committing any crimes.   Such legislation has been passed in numerous other states.   It became popular after police and other government forces illegally confiscated numerous firearms in the chaos after Hurricane Katrina.  Current Florida law makes it illegal to possess a firearm that is concealed on or about the person unless the person has a Florida concealed carry permit.  Florida law also makes it illegal to carry a firearm openly, in most cases.

If you are forced to evacuate your home, and have not yet obtained a Florida concealed carry permit, you could easily be charged with illegally carrying a concealed weapon and any firearms that you have with you could be confiscated.  The bill is CS/SB 296 or HB 209.

A staff attorney for the Florida National Guard, and general counsel for the Florida Department of Military Affairs, Capt. Terrence Gorman, was testifying about the bill before the Florida Senate's Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee.

As a former officer, one has to be very careful in these situations to differentiate between personal opinion and policy.   Policy is not made up on the spot, and counsel does not make policy.   That is the Commander's prerogative.

It appears that Cpt. Gorman overstepped his authority, because  the commander, Major General Emmet Titshaw wrote a letter to the committee saying that the Guard backs the bill, and to clarify that Captain Gorman is not authorized to speak for the department on legislative issues.  From the palmbeachpost.com:
“Capt. Terrence Gorman is not authorized to speak for the Department of Military Affairs on legislative issues,” Titshaw wrote on March 20. “Department of Military Affairs supports Senate Bill 296.”
It is a not unusual for junior officers to be reminded who makes policy, and who does not.   There is often a fine line, and an officer can act in good faith, and simply wander into areas where he should have been more careful.  That seems to be the case here:
“As the questioning proceeded, the perception could have been that he was in opposition of the bill,” Titshaw added.
The question goes to the heart of who is in charge, government agents, or the citizens.   Government is there to assist citizens in maintaining order and the common defense.   There are numerous cases where armed citizens formed impromptu militias and restored order in emergency situation.   There are numerous cases where military forces abused disarmed civilians.

Governor Scott and Major General Titshaw are on the correct side of this issue.  Yes, armed citizens may complicate a soldiers life a little bit.   But soldiers are there to assist citizens.   Citizens are ultimately their bosses.   It is an important fact that every officer is schooled in.   This proposed Florida law emphasizes the point, as it should.

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

1 comment:

Greg said...

Good point: soldiers (and police officers) are here to assist citizens who are ultimately their bosses and therefore make the rules.

I would suggest that anyone who has a handgun in their home for protection also get their concealed weapons permit if they would desire to take that firearm with them in the event of an emergency.