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Florida Supreme Court Upholds Ban On Openly Carrying Guns in 4-2 Ruling

| March 3, 2017

open carry ban

Not in Florida. (Eli Christman)

Rejecting arguments by Second Amendment supporters, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a longstanding state ban on people openly carrying firearms in public.

Justices, in a 4-2 ruling, said the state law “regulates only one manner of bearing arms and does not impair the exercise of the fundamental right to bear arms.” In doing so, the Supreme Court sided with the 4th District Court of Appeal, which ruled in 2015 against a man arrested in St. Lucie County for openly carrying a gun in a holster.

“(We) agree with the 4th District and are satisfied that the state’s prohibition on openly carrying firearms in public with specified exceptions — such as authorizing the open carrying of guns to and from and during lawful recreational activities — while still permitting those guns to be carried, albeit in a concealed manner, reasonably fits the state’s important government interests of public safety and reducing gun-related violence,” said the 47-page majority opinion, written by Justice Barbara Pariente and joined fully by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Justice Peggy Quince. Justice R. Fred Lewis agreed with the result but did not sign on to the opinion.

But Justice Charles Canady, in a dissent joined by Justice Ricky Polston, said the law “collides with the Second Amendment right as understood” in a landmark 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a Washington, D.C. gun law. He described as “feeble” arguments that the open-carry ban is justified for public-safety reasons.

“Of course, many people are made uncomfortable by the fact that others are permitted to keep and bear arms at all,” Canady wrote in the 10-page dissent. “But contemporary sensibilities cannot be the test. Such sensibilities are no more a basis for defeating the historic right to open carrying than for defeating the understanding that the Second Amendment recognizes the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.”

Justice Alan Lawson, who joined the court at the end of December, did not take part in the case.

The challenge to the law stemmed from the 2012 arrest in St. Lucie County of Dale Norman, who had a concealed-weapons license but was carrying a gun openly in a holster. A jury found Norman guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor, and a trial judge imposed a $300 fine and court costs, according to Thursday’s ruling.

Norman, who was represented by attorney Eric Friday of the Second Amendment group Florida Carry, then took the case to the 4th District Court of Appeal before ultimately going to the Supreme Court.

Pariente’s majority opinion traced issues in the case to a 1987 law that authorized the state to issue concealed-weapons licenses. She wrote that lawmakers also passed a separate measure that year barring people from openly carrying firearms.

The majority opinion drew a distinction between the Florida open-carry ban and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Washington, D.C. case and another case involving gun laws in Chicago. She wrote that unlike those laws, “which completely banned the possession of handguns in one’s home, Florida’s open carry law regulates only how firearms are borne in public.”

“Because this law does not amount to an entire ban on a class of guns or completely prohibit the bearing of firearms in public and does not affect the right to keep arms in one’s home … we conclude that Florida’s open carry law does not severely burden the right,” Pariente wrote.

Canady, however, pointed to the long period of time between the 1987 legislation and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the 2008 case, known as District of Columbia v. Heller.

“More to the point, the Legislature decided that the sacrifice of open carrying was a necessary and appropriate response to the public opposition generated by the passage of the concealed-carry law,” Canady wrote. “But the legal landscape has now dramatically shifted. Heller has settled that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. And Heller’s historical analysis points strongly to the conclusion that the individual right includes the right to carry arms openly in public.”

Thursday’s ruling came five days before the start of the 2017 legislative session, which is expected to include a series of debates about gun rights. Lawmakers last year did not pass a proposal that would have allowed people with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry firearms.

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

Open-Carry Decision (2017)

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22 Responses for “Florida Supreme Court Upholds Ban On Openly Carrying Guns in 4-2 Ruling”

  1. Knightwatch says:

    Yeaaa… one for the sane people in Florida. Up your’s NRA!

  2. palmcoaster says:

    Thank You Supreme Court Justices!
    I only trust to see the weapons that my paid service law enforcement carries to defend us when the need comes and not the revival of the Wild West among us. Enough shootings and carnage by nuts or bullies is enough.

  3. USA Lover says:

    This is the dumbest thing I have heard in my life. People are afraid to see a person openly carrying a weapon in public? Well guess what. I don’t like seeing thugs that might have guns in their pockets and threaten me and my family. I would wear my Glock 10 on my hip if I could but that’s ok. I might still have it on me and there’s only one way to find out.

  4. Wishful thinking says:


  5. Richie says:

    Sanity prevails.

  6. Dutch says:

    And the infringement of our 2nd Amendment rights continues.

  7. Glenn King says:

    Another unconstitutional law upheld in the name of “feelings”. Another persons fear of firearms is not a valid Constitutional reason to restrict the 2nd Amendment rights of the lawful citizens of Florida. All laws that “infringe” on the “right to keep and BEAR arms” are unconstitutional. Charging a fee, requiring a permit, and forcing it’s citizens to conceal their firearms is INFRINGING on their rights. No other right is taken away and sold back to it’s citizens. One day soon to come, the unconstitutional infringements placed on the citizens of the United States will be removed either by ballot box or bullet, and I know how I will vote and what side of the civil war I will be on.

  8. palmcoaster says:

    You can still wear your Glock in your hip Lover…but concealed so I do not feel threatened! After all we all Anti NRA’s have rights too!

  9. Glenn says:

    You have no Constitutional right to “not feel threatened”. Feelings are not valid reasoning to create laws, especially those laws that restrict the Constitutional rights of others. Your fear of firearms is your problem.

  10. Dave says:

    Glenn it’s your fear that gives you the need to openly carry, so it works both ways

  11. Sherry says:

    I strongly disagree Glenn! Our Declaration of Independence promises the rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. . . surely in that context, most people would agree that we ALL have the right to enjoy public places without fear and feeling threatened. Your fear filled need to intimidate others is NOT a legal Right!!!
    Now the Florida Supreme court has finally made this clear!!

  12. Glenn says:

    Sorry Sherry, although you do have “rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, I do too. My rights include the “right to keep and bear arms, that shall not be infringed”, while there is no Constitutional protections for your “feelings”. My open carrying guarantees my “rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”, and you are free to look away or go somewhere else if you don’t like the sight of a firearm on another citizens hip. Your rights are no more important than mine, but my right to bear arms is a Constitutionally protected right that does have more importance and legal standing than your “feelings”.

  13. Glenn says:

    Sorry Dave, I don’t “fear” anything as I carry concealed anyway. Anyone that cowers in fear when they see a firearm on another citizens hip has a serious issue. Do you fear seeing a uniformed officer open carrying? Well guess what, as a veteran I most likely have more training than that most police officers. Wearing a firearm on your hip is not about fear, It’s about comfort. It is more comfortable to carry on my hip than to have to tuck it in my waist band. It’s also a verifiable fact that open carry prevents crime. This was just one court case, there is still a bill pending in the Florida legislature to allow open carry with permit that has a good chance of becoming law now that de la Portilla has been ousted from the Senate.

  14. Knightwatch says:

    Glenn… you cannot be serious. You are saying that normal people going about their daily business shouldn’t feel intimidated by men and women carrying semiautomatic pistols, or worse. Men and women who may or may not be trained in their use. Men and women who may be angry, overly aggressive or mentally unbalanced. Men and women who may want to just make a “statement” or gain instantaneous notoriety. Men and women who may be reaching for their groceries and accidently drop their loaded weapon.

    No, maybe you’re right. Mabe it us sane people, not the deplorables out there.

  15. Josh Davis says:

    Backwards logic as usual. Rifles and shotguns must be placed in the windows of vehicles in a gun rack so law enforcement can see them and know of a possible threat. As well, they can tell if one has a concealed weapons permit by searching a database to determine if the driver may be carrying. Florida’ Supreme Court using the “don’t ask, dont tell” doctrine is another wonderful example of sticking your head in the sand and pretending that if you don’t see it, there’s no gun there.

  16. Sherry says:

    NO Glenn. . . you do NOT have the right to threaten and intimidate! There are many laws against such things. . . beginning with bullying in elementary school!

    It’s amazing how fear filled, armed to the teeth, gun zealots completely ignore the context of the 2nd amendment and ALL its words which include the need for guns to be “REGULATED”:

    “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.”

    The rights to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are NOT just feelings. . . actually they are much more powerful ideals than Glenn and his ilk can imagine. How terribly pathetic and sad! A tragic example of how some human beings are actually de-evolving away from higher ways of being and back to the cave.

  17. Pogo says:

    Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

    – Mao Zedong

    When someone tells you who and what they are – believe them.

  18. Glenn says:

    Knightwatch and Sherry, open carry is not to threaten or intimidate. Only those that are weak minded and live in fear have an issue with people carrying a firearm on their hip. People carry concealed around you every day, with or without a permit, are you afraid of everyone? You do realize that those individuals that are prohibited from carrying will continue to carry concealed when open carry is lawful. In other States that already have open carry it’s a non issue. Do the police carry openly to intimidate or threaten the public?

    Sherry the 2nd Amendment says that the Militia should be “well regulated”, not the arms or the people, and at the time the Constitution was written “well regulated” meant “in proper working order” which means that the militia should drill and be proficient as a group. It’s the people’s INDIVIDUAL right to “keep and bear arms” and our COLLECTIVE right to form Militias. You have every right to live your life as you see fit, if you don’t like guns don’t buy one. You are the one restricting my rights because of your fear of “seeing” a firearm, you’re the one with the problem…

  19. Knightwatch says:

    Well, Glen, consider me weak-minded and living in fear. My weak mind fears the 11,000 homicides by gun in this country each year. An American Journal of Medicine study published this year found that Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries. Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States’ gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher. The United States’ gun-related suicide rate is eight times higher than other high-income countries.

    So Glen, non-issue?

  20. Glenn says:

    Knightwatch, how many of those 11000 homicides are by people that are prohibited from owning firearms? How many were gang related? How many of those homicides happened when the person killed was unable to protect themselves due to unconstitutional laws preventing them from carrying a firearm? How many of those 11000 homicides were preventable if law abiding citizens were not restricted from carrying a firearm? And on to the “other countries” stats, how many people were killed by weapons other than firearms in other countries? How many non fatal assaults are there in other countries. By the way, statistics prove over and over again that firearms save more lives and prevent more crime every year than your homicide stats. I’m not even going to argue about suicide, as that has NOTHING to do with firearms. Studies have also shown that someone without access to a firearm will still take their own life by another means. WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ME, A LAW ABIDING CITIZEN, CARRYING A FIREARM ON MY HIP? Especially when I am able to afford an unconstitutional “permit” and carry a firearm everyday, everywhere I go… Again, your fear of a firearm on someone’s hip is your issue, especially when anyone around you is already carrying legally or not. Actually 1 in 6 people you see every day in Florida have a permit to carry concealed, and double that to include those that carry without a permit to 1 in 3. I just don’t get why seeing a firearm on someone’s hip is an issue when every 3rd person you see anywhere is already carrying a firearm… Fear, you have an issue. As I said, in EVERY OTHER State that allows open carry it’s a NON-ISSUE. Open carry has never caused crime to rise, every statistic proves that it either has no affect or crime falls. Open carry has NOTHING to do with homicide, nothing to do with your chance of being attacked (unless your the one carrying and your chance falls to less than .01%), and open carry has absolutely NOTHING to do with suicide. Your fear is YOUR issue, and not one fact backs up your claim that open carry has ANYTHING to do with ANY of the stats you pointed out…

  21. gmath55 says:

    Sherry and Knightwatch educate yourself. Look at this video.

  22. Sherry says:

    Educate yourselves. . . Australia has had a significant reduction in their murder rate since their gun buy back. . . this from The Guardian:

    Since major gun law reforms were introduced in Australia, mass shootings have not only stopped, but there has also been an accelerating reduction in rates of firearm-related homicide and suicides, a landmark study has found.

    It has been two decades since rapid-fire long guns were banned in Australia, including those already in private ownership, and 19 years since the mandatory buyback of prohibited firearms by government at market price was introduced. A handgun buyback program was later introduced, in 2003.

    It took one massacre: how Australia embraced gun control after Port Arthur
    Read more
    Researchers from the University of Sydney and Macquarie University analysed data on intentional suicide and homicide deaths caused by firearms from the National Injury Surveillance Unit, and intentional firearm death rates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. For the period after the 1996 reforms, rates of total homicides and suicides from all causes were also examined to consider whether people may have substituted guns for alternative means.

    From 1979 to 1996, the average annual rate of total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths was rising at 2.1% per year. Since then, the average annual rate of total non-firearm suicide and homicide deaths has been declining by 1.4%, with the researchers concluding there was no evidence of murderers moving to other methods, and that the same was true for suicide.

    The average decline in total firearm deaths accelerated significantly, from a 3% decline annually before the reforms to a 5% decline afterwards, the study found.

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