Handgun Open Carry Bill Passes Final Florida House Committee

On a vote of 12-4, the Florida House Criminal Justice Subcommittee passed HB-163 which would turn approximately 1.4 million Florida concealed carry permits into handgun carry permits. The ban on openly carrying long guns and openly carrying handguns without a permit will remain if the bill becomes law.

A permit holder would be able to carry a handgun openly in a holster or concealed on his person should the bill pass. In the past, Florida Governor Rick Scott said he would sign an Open Carry bill. Only one of the four votes in committee against this bill was by a “Republican,” Chris Latvala, who says it is his mission to purge conservatives from the Republican Party. In other words, Representative Lavala’s opposition to Open Carry improves the odds of final passage but don’t assume final passage is guaranteed, there are more than a few RINO Republicans in the Florida legislature and some of them claim to be conservative Republicans.

florida house of reps
Florida House of Representatives.

Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives outnumber Democrats by a two to one margin. There is a related handgun Open Carry bill in the Florida Senate as well. Republicans in the Florida Senate likewise outnumber Democrats by a two to one margin.

The Florida legislature banned Open Carry back in 1987 for which former Attorney General Janet Reno (The Butcher of Waco) played no small part and which speaks volumes about what was once a solidly Democrat state.

Prior to 1987, Florida had an Open Carry ban of sorts. According to a 1941 Florida Supreme Court decision the old Florida Open Carry ban applied only to Blacks.

.” .the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers…and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied. We have no statistics available, but it is a safe guess to assume that more than 80% of the white men living in the rural sections of Florida have violated this statute. It is also a safe guess to say that not more than 5% of the men in Florida who own pistols and repeating rifles have ever applied to the Board of County Commissioners for a permit to have the same in their possession and there had never been, within my knowledge, any effort to enforce the provisions of this statute as to white people, because it has been generally conceded to be in contravention of the Constitution and non-enforceable if contested.” Watson v. Stone, 4 So. 2d at 703 (Buford, J. concurring specially)

Ironically, the current Florida Open Carry ban is now before the Florida Supreme Court and the man challenging the ban is a Black man, Dale Lee Norman, who was arrested, prosecuted and convicted for openly carrying a handgun the same day he got his concealed carry permit.

Whether or not the current Open Carry bills pending in the Florida legislature pass or fail, it will not affect the decision by today’s Florida Supreme Court in the Norman v. State Open Carry case.

The Florida Supreme Court has narrowly limited the questions to be argued before it. The two questions are whether or not Florida’s current Open Carry ban violates the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution or whether or not the Florida Open Carry ban violates the Florida Constitution.

The final brief in the Norman v. State Open Carry case is due to be filed the first week of February.

Florida, Illinois and California are the last three states to ban both the Open Carry of handguns and long guns in incorporated cities towns and villages. The District of Columbia bans the Open Carry of both handguns and long guns. Hawaii bans the Open Carry of handguns and requires a permit to openly carry a handgun but its police chiefs only issue these permits to persons employed in the protection of life and property (e.g., bodyguards for the rich).

Charles Nichols is a proponent of open carry.  In 2011, he filed a Federal Civil Rights lawsuit seeking to overturn California’s 1967 ban on openly carrying loaded firearms in public for the purpose of lawful self-defense.  Oral argument in his case took place on February 15, 2018, before a three-judge panel of the 9th circuit court of appeals. Charles follows court cases relating to The Second Amendment and tells us what they really mean instead of what reporters, who have never read the decisions in the cases, say they mean.

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