Florida Open Carry Bills in the Legislature

IMG_1133Imagine you are working road patrol in your uniform and marked squad car at the scene of an urban disturbance when you see a man walking up behind you on a crowded sidewalk.  As he moves closer, you see he has a 9mm handgun in plain view, tucked into his waistband over his shirt.  You make eye contact, but, despite your unease, you cannot stop and ask him about the pistol because that would be against the law.  Does this make sense?

Under 2015 Senate Bill 300, and its companion, House Bill 163, open carry of firearms would be legal in Florida if the person possesses a state-issued concealed carry weapons license (CCW).  Both bills, in their respective Judiciary Committees now, would result in a $5,000 fine and loss of qualified immunity for an officer to question that man about his gun in the above scenario.  A cop’s agency would suffer a $100,000 penalty.  Fines are under 790.33 (3).

The new legislation specifically prevents an LEO from “infringing” and asking the armed party if he or she possesses a CCW license, unless the officer has probable cause to believe the person lacks a license.  If I had p/c, I wouldn’t have to ask.  Current law mandates a CCW holder display his license when asked by law enforcement.

Oh, and open carrying without a holster?  Not illegal under these bills, which offer no specifics for manner of carry.  I think this is a safety concern for those who would open carry and the innocents around them.

An earlier draft of the legislation in SB 300 gave business owners the right to keep armed patrons from carrying on their premises.  That language was struck down in SB 300, to the chagrin of the Florida Retail Federation and Florida Chamber of Commerce, but is still included in HB 163.

The NRA says that 45 states have open firearms carry without any problems, but that is an over-simplification.  Some states require retention holsters.  Others allow open carry only in rural areas or with unloaded firearms or with other restrictions.  Florida’s new law would be particularly vague.

Forty-seven Florida Sheriffs oppose SB 300 as it is currently written, as does the Fraternal Order of Police.  Proponents include the NRA, Florida Carry, and the Florida Sportsman’s Association.

If if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  I support the citizens of Florida being licensed to exercise their Second Amendment rights and carry concealed weapons.  But I don’t think open carry makes us any safer or is a more effective deterrent to crime.  Yes, I am an NRA member.

I urge all law enforcement officers to monitor SB 300 and HB 163.  Legislators and lobbyists will not be putting their lives on the line trying to guess whose gun is legal and whose is not out on the street.  We will.


Update:  Open Carry Bill is Dead.  Read here.


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17 Responses to Florida Open Carry Bills in the Legislature

  1. Devin says:


    We have open carry in Utah and there have been a few problems. In Utah a person can open carry or conceal carry a loaded firearm if that person has a weapon permit. But a person without a permit can open carry a firearm if there is no bullet in the chamber or it takes two actions to fire the handgun(one empty chamber in a revolver). And a gun can be concealed in a vehicle making it all the more difficult to charge gang members with a concealed weapon.

    This also includes rifles. Once the law went into effect some very smart individuals immediately decided to enter shopping malls with rifles, usually AR15s……police responded each time and each time the individual was defiant. A few times the individuals were almost shot. Scares the crap out of the shoppers and merchants. The state legislature has since passed a law requiring a rifle to be in a bag or case of some kind to carry it.

    A problem we had in Salt Lake City was a security guard from the University of Utah open carrying outside convenient stores while wearing a mask. Of course there was a person with a video camera nearby to catch the police interaction. He would pull up on a motorcycle directly in front of the store with his mask on, wander around the lot for a few minutes making sure everyone saw his gun until police were called. He claimed he was trying to spread open carry awareness to police officers. Fortunately SLCPD never took the bait and each interaction was non confrontational.

    Many of our motorcycle gang members open carry when they are on the road too.

    After a while open carry lost the zing with people who originally thought it was cool and we rarely see it now.

    Good luck in Florida!

    PS, All of Utah’s drug possessions(meth, black and white) are now only a class A Misdemeanor. No more felony charges for simple possession.

  2. Richard says:

    Here in North Carolina, open carry was the only way for a civilian to carry a handgun until the state authorized concealed carry permits in the mid 1990s. No big deal.

    The proposed bill as written to prevent cops from verifying the open carrier has a carry permit is a stupid idea. The draft legislation should be revised to prevent overt harassment from cops but still allow the good cops to serve and protect.

    • Randall says:


      I’m certainly not wishing to harassing anyone, but if someone with a visible firearm is acting in a suspicious manner, I think an LEO should be able to ask if they have a permit…


  3. Greg says:

    So; if i am out driving a car, police cannot ask to see my drivers licence? and if they do see my drivers licence they cannot use that information to run my name? like for warrants and stuff ?

    Seperately, what if i have a federal licence for like an automatic weapon, like an mp5; does that mean i can carry it slung across my chest while in Walmart?

    Personally i would NEVER ‘open carry’ in Walmart; it would be almost impossible to “resist” not ‘using’ on some Walmart “vermin”…

    • Randall says:

      I like the license analogies, Greg! As for Walmart, well…


      • Greg says:

        i see many things in life via analogies; i am an analogies kinda guy. But I think we need strong arguments to get the best compromise laws to be implemented or amended.
        I am Australian and much of USA politics is simply smoke and mirrors, deception. Politicians try to create so much disinterest that people will simply ignore them with apathy while they pass the laws they think are useful.
        People need to tell these vermin that silly laws will mean they will get unelected and forced to get a job…
        After all a politician is simply someone to dysfunctional to have a boss, to lazy to hold a job and to cowardly to try and launch a startup. Write to these vermin and tell them you aim to kick them away from the public feeding through…

  4. TRUE LIBERTY says:

    If I am that man walking down the street in your example I want to make sure I am not harassed or questioned by a police officer in any way if I am not breaking a law. Looking suspicious in the eyes of that particular police officer is not breaking a law. I like the fine they are proposing.

    But I do agree they need to revise the holster section and how we open carry.

  5. Mike says:

    I’m in favor of open carry. I am also against the idiots who do anything resembling “open carry awareness” or carry battle rifles into the Walmart to make a statement.

    Laws specifying holsters or holster types don’t sound necessary to me; it doesn’t seem like the abridgment of the Second Amendment isn’t called for.

    It shouldn’t be legal for police to harass open and concealed carriers. That’s not to say that most would — in my experience the vast majority of cops are doing a hard job to the best of their abilities, and have no desire to harass anyone acting lawfully. This proposed law seems like it goes too far, however, and would have a negative affect on officer safety. There has to be a better balance.

    • Randall says:

      Your reply was well-balanced, Mike! I guess this legislation falls into a gray area between too much and too little government for me. I wish people would use common sense in their lives and avoid the need for lawmakers to spell out the parameters of everyday rights. Did that make sense?


  6. M@ says:

    I can honestly say I have never been more opposed to a piece of pro-gun legislation than I am for open carry. Yeah, I know it’s legal in 45 states, but I believe some of those states don’t even have a concealed carry provision on their books, and just because it’s legal in other states, doesn’t mean it needs to be legal here.

    I’m surprised to see that FL hasn’t been able to work into the wording some kind of extra fee/endorsement or even a separate Open Carry license altogether. FL is always looking for new ways to help part people with their money.

    The one, possible, good thing I can think of coming out of Open Carry passing would be the State’s hand being forced to finally revamp the wording and training with regards to the G license and CCW licenses. If the Division of Licensing thinks it has issues now with people “impersonating a security officer” (493.6120(1)(b), F.S. ), wait until open carry passes!

    I work in a gun shop, and the discussion about this has come up, more times than I care to remember, and “For or Against”, people are pretty much split down the middle… Professionals, LEOs, Military, most the employees, guys that carry concealed every day, are against Open Carry. The gun shop groupies, forum jockeys, keyboard commandos, fanboi’s, are for Open Carry… So it seems that Maturity and Responsibility are the biggest opponents to Open Carry.

    Let’s not forget the other big issue… I can only imagine how many 911 calls with be flooding LEOs for, probably the first 4 months, if not longer.

    Maybe it’s just from wearing a duty belt for such a long time, but I just don’t see the appeal, use, or purpose of Open Carry in an everyday environment.

  7. Joe says:

    I believe that people who have a cwp should be able to open carry their guns. If asked then you should show the police officer it. If you have nothing to hide then work with the cops. If you do not qualify then this could and would stop some illegal guns when asked for your permit. Example: would a robber or other deranged person come up to you and tried to harm you if they saw your gun on your hip-no. Another example if you went into a store and say someone came in to rob it and you had your weapon on this would give you and anyone else in that store extra protection against the intruder. The positives out weighs the negatives. We need to work along side the law enforcement officers. Keep America Safe.

  8. Pingback: Florida Open Carry Bill is Dead | ThinBlueFlorida.com

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