Florida legislation proposes licensed open carry

Under Florida law (790.053), it is currently a misdemeanor to open carry a firearm other than the exceptions listed in F.S. 790.25 (e.g. when going to, or returning from, or when engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting). It is a felony (790.06) to carry a concealed firearm or weapon without a license. Statute 790.06 also limits who may qualify for a concealed carry license and the place and manner in which a weapon may be legally carried.

Open carry of firearms is currently legal in 45 states (Texas recently legalized licensed open carry). It was legal in Florida before 1987 when then State Attorney Janet Reno pushed for the ban during a special legislative session and Republican Governor Bob Martinez signed the ban into law. 

HB 163 would allow a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm or weapon to open carry in Florida. The law would provide liability for persons or entities who infringe on specified rights.

Summary:

“HB 163: Weapons and Firearms
GENERAL BILL by Representative Matt Gaetz
Weapons and Firearms; Provides for construction of statutes that implicate right to bear arms or engage in self-defense; specifies that law enforcement officer may arrest person for unlicensed carrying of concealed weapon only upon probable cause that such violation is being committed; provides that person licensed to carry concealed weapon may also openly carry such firearm or weapon; provides liability for person or entity who infringes on specified rights; provides exception; provides that certain persons & entities have no immunity; revises legislative findings concerning possession & carrying of weapons & firearms; revises provisions concerning construction of provisions.
Effective Date: upon becoming a law”
Track bill here
Read bill here

Here are a few excerpts:

“776.00111 Construction.—The judiciary shall employ strict scrutiny in reviewing any statute that implicates the right to bear arms or defend one’s self pursuant to this chapter. The right to bear arms is a fundamental and individual right that exists in any place that a person has the right to be, subject only to exceptionally and narrowly tailored restrictions that employ the least possible restriction on the right in order to achieve a compelling government interest.”

“Officer to arrest without warrant and upon probable cause.—The unlicensed carrying of a concealed weapon is declared a breach of peace, and any officer authorized to make arrests under the laws of this state may make arrests without warrant of persons violating s. 790.01 when said officer has reasonable grounds or probable cause to believe that the offense of unlicensed carrying of a concealed weapon is being committed.”

“790.053 Open carrying of weapons.— (1) A person licensed to carry a concealed firearm or weapon pursuant to this chapter may openly carry such firearm or weapon; however, except as otherwise provided by law and in subsection (2), it is unlawful for any other person to openly carry on or about his or her person a firearm or electric weapon or device….”

“Unless probable cause exists to believe that a crime has been committed by an individual, any person or entity infringing upon the rights conferred on that individual by this chapter, chapter 776, s. 8, Art. I of the State Constitution, or the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is liable pursuant to s. 790.33(3)(c), (d), (e), and (f). Notwithstanding any other law, no immunity shall apply to persons infringing on such rights in violation of this subsection.”

“…DECLARATION OF POLICY.—The Legislature finds as a matter of public policy and fact that the possession and carrying of weapons and firearms by law-abiding individuals for lawful purposes, including self-defense, enhances public safety…

“…CONSTRUCTION.—The judiciary shall construe this act in conjunction with the right to bear arms or defend one’s self as provided in chapter 776. The right to bear arms and defend one’s self is a fundamental and individual right that exists in any place that a person has the right to be, subject only to exceptionally and narrowly tailored restrictions that employ the least possible restriction on the right in order to achieve a compelling government interest…”

Presumably, open carry would only be allowed where a concealed weapon license is valid. For example, open carry would still be prohibited wherever licensed concealed carry is also prohibited (s. 790.06), for example: any place of nuisance, police, sheriff, or highway patrol station, detention facility, prison, jail, courthouse, courtroom, polling place, any meeting of a governing body of a county, public school district, municipality, or special district; any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof; any school, college, or professional athletic event not related to firearms; any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building; any career center; any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises; any college or university facility; the inside of the passenger terminal and sterile area of any airport; Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law.

Read more about the requirement to qualify for a conceal weapon license here.

Related:

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