Florida bill reduces penalty for “open carry” by concealed-weapon licensees

A proposed bill, SB 148, reduces the penalties for people who have concealed-weapons licenses and openly carry, at least for the first two occurences. Under current Florida law (790.053), it is a second-degree misdemeanor to open carry a firearm other than the exceptions listed in F.S. 790.25 (e.g. during target practice under safe conditions and in a safe place not prohibited by law or going to or from such place, or when going to, or returning from, or when engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting). Under this proposed bill, license holders would be cited for noncriminal violations that would carry a $25 fine on a first violation and a $500 fine on a second violation. They would face second-degree misdemeanor charges on third or subsequent violations. Also, people with concealed-weapons licenses also could not be arrested or charged if firearms are “temporarily and openly displayed.”

While it is currently a misdemeanor to open carry in Florida, 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.

In other firearms-related news, Senate Judiciary Chairman Greg Steube (R) said that “at this time” he doesn’t plan to file two other gun bills. One of those bills would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on university and college campuses. The other proposal would allow license-holders to openly carry handguns.

U.S. Constitution, Amendment II:
“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Florida Constitution, Article I, Section 8:
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.”

Florida Constitution, Article 1, Section 2:
“Basic rights.—All natural persons, female and male alike, are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right to enjoy and defend life and liberty…”


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