It’s about time.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, introduced a controversial measure Friday that would allow the more than 1.67 million Floridians with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry handguns.
Steube’s bill (SB 140), which is filed for the 2017 legislative session, also would expand the places where people with concealed-weapons licenses are allowed to carry guns. It would allow them to be armed at legislative meetings; local government meetings; elementary and secondary schools; airport passenger terminals; and college and university campuses.
License holders would still be prohibited from carrying weapons at locations such as police stations, jails, courtrooms, polling places and most bars.
During the 2016 session, the open-carry measure was approved 80-38 in the House but failed to advance through the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was chaired by former Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami. Diaz de la Portilla lost a re-election bid in November.
Yea, I hope I helped in some small way to ensure that it was a failed re-election bid. But what we see here is permitted open carry, with the same failings of the Texas permitted open carry law.
Police don’t know how to enforce it, given that there is no stop and identify statute in Texas (and all stops must be so-called Terry stops anyway). Florida is a stop and identify state, specifically for loitering and prowling.
So how does this apply to open carry? What role does the permit play in all of this? There is an easier way to do this, and it’s to make the state constitutional carry with legal open carry. Stop taking half way measures.
Richard A. Nascak, executive director of Florida Carry, weighs in on the coming kerfuffle.
U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson’s viewpoint, published by the Sun Sentinel on Dec. 2, is a mini-case study on irrational fears. She flatly states that the proposals to legalize open, campus, and airport carry are a “notion that sends chills down my spine.”
The reason is revealed by her own admission. “It’s almost too easy to imagine the horrific effect and consequences that such laws would have in urban communities.” And there we have the source — her imagination. Unfortunately, Rep. Wilson’s imagination does not represent the experiences of 45 other states with regards to open carry.
In recent years, several states have legalized open carry of firearms — Oklahoma in 2012, and Texas in 2016 (adding handguns to the already lawful open carry of long guns). Similar concerns were voiced by officials in those states prior to open carry becoming lawful. For example, both Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan and Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty strongly opposed open carry citing a myriad of unsubstantiated reasons.
Likewise, the first vice president of the Dallas Police Association, Austin Police Chief Art Acevado, and a host of other Texas officials opposed open carry. Here in Florida, we hear the same rhetoric from the Florida Sheriffs Association and in particular Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri who, like his predecessor Jim Coats, threatened to shoot those seen openly carrying firearms.
So, what were the results of the legalization of open carry in Oklahoma and Texas? As pro-gun rights organizations predicted, much ado about nothing. Quoting from several media sources after passage:
•”We’ve not been responding to any calls, we’ve not had any complaints, we’ve not been taking reports. No, no issues here,” said Maj. Shannon Clark with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department. “We have not seen anything alarming or attention-grabbing at all,” said Tulsa Police Officer Leland Ashley.
•”I think it proves our point just a little bit that good, responsible people don’t get in trouble with firearms and that thugs and hoodlums get into trouble with firearms every day,” said Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton.
•”We do not have anything interesting to report,” Cpl. Tracey Knight, spokeswoman for the Fort Worth Police Department, said last week. “Two calls so far, no issues. We have no concerns and we have had no problems.”
•”I said before this became law that I thought it was going to be much ado about nothing but I didn’t know it was going to be this much nothing,” Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said.
Rep. Wilson appears to be primarily concerned with black youths in urban areas. However as cited, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and other urban centers with a black youth population belie that concern. The fears are unsubstantiated.
So we get to the meat of the objection – she’s worried about those black boys carrying guns around. But some of them do anyway, you just can’t see them. Furthermore, I don’t object to peaceable men carrying guns. If they pull them and threaten anyone, then that’s considered brandishing, and you can swear out a warrant for their arrest and have them charged. Problem solved.
Unless of course the real problem is that you’re worried about undisciplined black boys being irresponsible with those guns and going to prison for it. In this case, your problem doesn’t have a solution in the law. You need to speak to the families and churches about that.