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Dear Representative Lori Berman, (D-FL District 90), Communist Party of Florida

Representative Lori Berman, I thank you for sending me your email concerning Florida’s open carry bills. You stated that allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry openly their weapons in holsters on the streets and in public buildings gives you “great concern.”

You say they “pose a threat” to our “safety” in the community and to residents.

So that would be me and 1.4 million law abiding Americans who live in Florida with concealed carry permits that you are referring too, correct?

Seriously, please specify to me how an inanimate object in the hands of a well trained law abiding American poses a threat to residents and the community.

Please list for me all the threats that a holstered weapons poses. Give me 5 examples. List them 1 – 5.

I am an expert pistol and rifle shot. I have been federally and state screened to carry a concealed weapon. I was trained by the U.S. Navy to fire more weapons than your average person.

I am also a deadly shot so if a bad guy wants to play ball with me he will lose. I am not a threat to the community I am an asset.

People will feel at ease shopping in the store when they see my weapon in my holster. Bad guys will think twice about robbing the store I am in.

Ladies with a holstered weapon become secure in their surroundings knowing they have a means to defend themselves from bad people. 9-11 calls will drop dramatically.

It is you Representative Berman that is the threat to the community by refusing to uphold your oath of office to uphold and defend and protect the U.S. Constitution of the United States – the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment gives me and every other law abiding citizen in this nation the right to carry a weapon for self defense and to protect others either concealed or in an open holster.

It is liberals like you who make the streets more dangerous with your policies, just look at Chicago. You agenda is to disarm us but you will retain “your” weapons.

Perhaps it is time for you to pack your stuff and leave Boynton Beach Florida and go back to the “Peoples Republic” of New York where you originally immigrated from.

Slap your Hillary Clinton sticker on your Michael Kors over night bag, affix your Hammer and Sickle lapel pin to your made in China jacket and take your left wing, pro socialist anti American ideology with you and stay there.

RELATED ARTICLE: Find Out If Your Lawmaker Voted to End Operation Choke Point

Florida: The Truth about Open Carry — Erroneous Claims Exposed

Many folks remember that during the fight to pass Florida’s Concealed Carry law, the Florida Sheriffs Association opposed concealed carry.  They literally said they didn’t like “hidden guns.”

At the time, open carry was legal in Florida and had been for decades.  They said if people were going to be allowed to carry guns, they needed to carry them openly so law enforcement officers could see them and know who had guns — they claimed it was a matter of officer safety.

Now, they have reversed positions.  They claim concealed carry is fine and they don’t mind concealed guns.  BUT, open carry is dangerous. They claim they won’t know the good guys from the bad guys, and one sheriff (now retired) said law enforcement would have to “draw down” and anybody carrying openly.  You’ve probably heard or read most of the rhetoric.

They always lead off saying they are strong Second Amendment supporters then proceed to explain why they OPPOSE Second Amendment rights.

The Constitution guarantees your right to keep and bear arms and it certainly doesn’t say you can only exercise your rights if your sheriff agrees with it.

Below are the facts about open carry — it is a rebuttal of some the latest claims.  You may also click here The Truth About Open Carry to download a copy for the fact sheet to share with others.

The Truth About The Open Carry Bill & the 45 States that Allow Open Carry

In recent Palm Beach Post Blog articles and a Tampa Bay Times Blog article, the Chairman of the Florida Sheriffs Association’s Legislative Committee (FSA) is quoted with some erroneous claims regarding the proposed open carry bill in Florida (SB-300 by Sen. Don Gaetz and HB-163 by Rep. Matt Gaetz).

In recent Palm Beach Post Blog articles and a Tampa Bay Times Blog article, the Chairman of the Florida Sheriffs Association’s Legislative Committee (FSA) is quoted with some erroneous claims regarding the proposed open carry bill in Florida (SB-300 by Sen. Don Gaetz and HB-163 by Rep. Matt Gaetz).

Below are some of those claims and our responses.

FSA CLAIM: “The bill as currently drafted is extremely broad, lacking limits on when, how or where firearms could be carried.”

FACT: The same provisions and restrictions that apply to concealed carry also apply to open carry (s.790.06).  Only a person with a license to carry concealed will be able to carry openly. Additionally, the improper exhibition of firearms law (s.790.10) applies whether carrying concealed or openly.

Further, because of these and other erroneous claims, a clarification amendment, to stop open carry opponents from continuing to make such false claims, was added to the bill in Senate Criminal Justice Committee the morning of 10/20/15 – We know the spokesman made that claim even AFTER the clarification amendment was added because the spokesman made reference to an amendment “that didn’t pass” in the same committee meeting.

Since the FSA spokesman obviously doesn’t want to believe the NRA’s data, the following data was provided by Florida Carry, Inc. – and their data confirms ours.

FSA CLAIM: “The bill’s proponents claim that 45 other states already allow open-carry. But that’s not really accurate.”

FACT:  To the contrary, it is accurate.   Forty-five (45) states allow open carry of firearms.  Varying restrictions on open carry in some states does not alter the fact that 45 states allow open carry.

  • 15 of 45 open carry states require a license to carry concealed or openly.
  • 30 of 45 open carry states do not require any license to carry openly.
  • 0 of 15 of the concealed carry license states require additional training to carry openly.
  • 0 of 45 states offer a separate “open carry” license.
  • 2 of 45 states require an open carry holster.  On 1/1/16 Texas will require a holster.
  • 0 of 45 states require a retention holster.
  • 5 of 15 are “may-issue” states where law enforcement issues licenses.
  • 15 of 15 states require the license holder to produce the license on lawful demand by a law enforcement officer.

FSA CLAIM: “… most open-carry states have strict rules about … producing the permit on demand.”

FACT: This is a red herring.  FLORIDA law already requires license holders to produce a license on demand by a law enforcement officer.  And for the record, all 15 states that require a license, require producing the license on lawful demand by a law enforcement officer.

FSA CLAIM:  “…[I]t’s ‘intellectually dishonest’ to say open carry laws are working in the 45 other states because there are so many variations in the laws and the demographics.

FACT: The open carry laws are working in 45 states. Opponents have presented no evidence to the contrary – no evidence that it isn’t working in any state and no evidence of problems in any state. These are just baseless allegations.  Simply because different states have variations in their laws does not in any way alter the fact that open carry is allowed and that it’s working.

FSA CLAIM:  “In Pennsylvania, for example, cities can opt out of its open carry law and some, including Philadelphia, do just that, Gualtieri said. Florida cities don’t have the option to opt out of a state law.”

FACT:  Pennsylvania DOES NOT allow cities to opt out of its open carry law. Pennsylvania does not require a license for a person to carry openly.  Philadelphia cannot “opt out” of the state open carry law.  Pennsylvania state law allows the city of Philadelphia (and only Philadelphia) to require a license to carry openly in Philadelphia.

FSA CLAIM:  As for demographics, “You can’t compare Sioux Falls, S.D. to downtown Miami or downtown Tampa or downtown Orlando,” Gualtieri said.

FACT: This argument is illogical and perhaps intentionally misleading. Seventy percent (70%) of the American public live in open carry states from all regions of the country.  Many of the 45 open carry states have large and diverse cities just like Florida and where you live geographically, whether it’s Trilby, FL or Fanning Springs, FL, you have the same constitutional rights as citizens who live in Miami, Tampa, or Orlando.

FSA CLAIM: “…the state’s trespass law gives businesses the right to ask anyone openly carrying a weapon to leave their property,” but they … “will be reluctant to tell a person wearing a .45 to leave.”

FACT: Posting signs prohibiting open carry inside a business establishment is a simple solution.  Proper notification will stop citizens from even entering the establishment.  Property owners already must post trespass signs to notify the public to stay off private property.

Businesses have the right to refuse service and evict anyone they wish unless it’s done on the basis of race, gender, or religion.  Further, it is common to see signs that say, “No shirt, no shoes – no service.”  Why are they reluctant to post signs saying, “No open carrying of firearms?”

FSA CLAIM: “..if you are McDonald’s you won’t be able to exclude somebody from putting their gun on the table and sitting there and eating.”

FACT: Again, any business may evict a customer for behavior they deem to be offensive, dangerous or inappropriate.   Further it is a criminal offense under s.790.10 to exhibit a firearm in a rude or careless manner.

Florida: Open Carry Bill Passes 1st House Committee

Tuesday, October 6, 2015,  the House Criminal Justice Committee held a hearing on  HB-163 by Rep. Matt Gaetz.

The bill PASSED by a Vote of 8-4.

HB-163 is a bill to allow persons with a Concealed Weapons & Firearms License to carry firearms concealed or openly.

Sheriff Wayne Ivey (Brevard) and representatives of Sheriff Charlie Creel (Wakulla) expressed support for the bill at a press conference with bill sponsors Sen. Don Gaetz and Rep. Matt Gaetz, before the committee meeting.  Among other sheriffs who have expressed support for open carry are Sheriff Gordon Smith (Bradford) and Sheriff Chris Nocco (Pasco).

Voting FOR the bill were Republican Reps. Carlos Truijillo, Dennis Baxley, Jay Fant, Gayle Harrell, Ray Pilon, Scott Plakon, Ross Spano and Charles Van Zant.

Voting AGAINST the bill were Democrat Reps. Randolph Bracy, Dave Kerner and Sharon Pritchett — Rep. Clovis Watson did not vote.

The only Republican to vote against the bill was Chris Latvala (R-Clearwater).

BACKGROUND:

This bill will prevent CW license holders from being charged with the crime of violating the “Open Carry” law because a concealed firearm, being legally carried, accidentally or inadvertently became visible to another person.

According to our attorneys, allowing license holders to carry openly is the only way to truly keep them from being arrested and/or prosecuted for violating the open carry ban if firearms are accidentally and unintentionally exposed.

IT IS UNFORTUNATELY TRUE that anytime you are carrying a concealed firearm you are in danger of being charged with a crime and treated like a criminal if your firearm accidentally becomes exposed to the sight of another person and law enforcement is called.

In 2011, we attempted to fix that problem.  We supported language that clearly says it is NOT a violation of the open carry ban “for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.”

Not only did that language NOT stop the abuse.  It has gotten worse.

In one case, a young man was arrested when his firearm was accidentally and unintentionally exposed.  Someone saw it and called 911.  It took law enforcement 5 minutes to arrive.  They arrested him because they said 5 minutes wasn’t brief.  It didn’t matter that it was accidental and unintentional.  He was prosecuted and convicted.

In another case a man was arrested, and convicted because the accidental and unintentional exposure of his firearm was for only 2 minutes.

Further, it has been reported that State Attorney Angela Corey’s office in Jacksonville says that exposure isn’t brief, if it is more than an instantaneous glance before being covered up again.

And to make matters worse, there is a case pending on a motion for review before the Florida Supreme Court — because a lower court didn’t think a young man was dressed appropriately to hide a gun when it accidentally became visible.

Concealed Weapons License holders whose firearms are seen by others seem to be targets in some jurisdictions.

This bill will only allow persons who have a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm to carry concealed or openly.  All of the provisions of the concealed carry law apply to those who chose to carry openly. Including:

  • You must have your license on you at all times when carrying and you must show it to a law enforcement officer who asks if you have a license.
  • You cannot carry a long gun — rifle or shotgun — concealed or openly under this law.
  • You cannot carry concealed or openly onto private property of any business or person who chooses to prohibit it.
  • You cannot carry openly in any place where concealed carry is prohibited.

THANK YOU for your email and phone calls to Committee members.  Taking a few moments to communicate with Legislators is very important.

Email addresses of the Committee members are below.

carlos.trujillo@myfloridahouse.gov,
charles.vanzant@myfloridahouse.gov
,
dennis.baxley@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Jay.Fant@myfloridahouse.gov
,
gayle.harrell@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Chris.Latvala@myfloridahouse.gov
,
ray.pilon@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Scott.Plakon@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Ross.Spano@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Randolph.Bracy@myfloridahouse.gov

Dave.Kerner@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Sharon.Pritchett@myfloridahouse.gov
,
Clovis.Watson@myfloridahouse.gov

UPDATE: Rep Gaetz is holding an Open Live Forum Conference on the “Open Carry Bill” that he proposed which passed in the subcommittee. The live event will be
Thursday, Oct 8th at 6:15 pm via telephone. Below is the link to “subscribe” to be able to participate.

https://vekeo.com/event/representativemattgaetz-19481/

Okay, Let’s Regulate Guns like Cars by Eugene Volokh

A commenter on a recent thread asked — seemingly from a pro-gun-control perspective — “Why can’t guns be treated like cars, regulated and available, only to those who demonstrate competence and compliance with laws?” That is a perfect excuse for me to reprise my analysis of the guns-cars analogy.

Cars are basically regulated as follows (I rely below on California law, but to my knowledge the rules are similar throughout the country):

  1. No federal licensing or registration of car owners.
  2. Any person may use a car on his own private property without any license or registration. See, e.g., California Vehicle Code §§ 360, 12500 (driver’s license required for driving on “highways,” defined as places that are “publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel”); California Vehicle Code § 4000 (same as to registration).
  3. Any adult — and in most states, 16- and 17-year-olds, as well — may get a license to use a car in public places by passing a fairly simple test that virtually everyone can pass.
  4. You can lose your license for proved misuse of the car, but not for most other misconduct; and even if you lose your driver’s license, you can usually regain it some time later.
  5. Your license from one state is good throughout the country.

This is pretty much how many gun rights advocates would like to see guns regulated, and is in fact pretty close to the dominant model in the over 40 states that now allow pretty much any law-abiding adult to get a license to carry a concealed weapon: No need to register or get a license to have a gun at home, and a simple, routine test through which any law-abiding citizen can get a state license to carry a gun in public.

And even if we require a test for all possession of a gun, at home or in public — again, something that’s not required for cars — that would still mean that pretty much any law-abiding adult (or 16- or 17-year-old) would be able to easily get a license to carry a gun. That would provide more functional gun rights in the remaining non-shall-issue states (including, for instance, New York) than is provided under current gun regulations.

Now I suspect that many gun control advocates would in reality prefer a much more onerous system of regulations for guns than for cars. Of course, one can certainly argue that guns should be regulated more heavily than cars; thoughtful gun control advocates do indeed do this.

But then one should candidly admit that one is demanding specially burdensome regulation for guns — and not claim to be merely asking “why can’t guns be treated like cars?”

Incidentally, I don’t claim any great originality on these points: Others have made them before me, see, e.g., David Kopel’s “Taking It to the Streets,” Reason, Nov. 1999. But some things are worth repeating.

This post first appeared at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Eugene Volokh
Eugene Volokh

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.

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