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“I’m Against It,” Sheriff Manfre Says of Open-Carry as Bill Picks Up Momentum

| December 11, 2015

florida open c arry

But is it necessary? (Teknorat)

Acknowledging “momentum” behind a proposal that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry guns, the Florida Police Chiefs Association said Thursday its board of directors had voted to back the controversial measure — as long as changes designed to protect law-enforcement officers are included.

A spokeswoman confirmed that the police chiefs’ group had contacted the sponsors of the proposal (SB 300/HB 163), Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and his son, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, who both say they’re on board with the changes.

“The police chiefs understand that momentum is building,” association spokeswoman Sandi Poreda said. “And because of their concerns for police officers’ safety, they wanted to go ahead and reach out to the bill sponsors and work on these amendments, which they believe will better protect officers.”

If the measure passes, 1.45 million Floridians with concealed-weapons permits would be able to openly carry guns. Opponents — including a number of Florida sheriffs, Flagler County’s Jim Manfre among them — warn that people who openly display guns could get hurt as a result, either by criminals or law enforcement.

“I’m against it,” Manfre said in an interview today. “I don’t see any reason for it. The law is working. There is no problem. People are getting their concealed carry on a timely basis. There hasn’t been a spike in crime in Florida, in fact crime is down throughout the state.”

Manfre said an open-carry allowance would significantly increase burdens on law enforcement locally and across the state as cops would have to respond differently to otherwise routine situations, but where guns would now be openly carried. For example, there could be a verbal confrontation at Walmart or any other public place. “If we get a report that there’s a gun seen whether it’s a person that has it legally or not, we have to react to that completely differently than if it’s just two people who don’t have a weapon on them,” Manfre said.

Sheriff Jim Manfre is facing a lawsuit from a long-time employee who claims she was forced to resign after flagging inappropriate spending on dining and entertainment. The sheriff through his attorney 'vigorously denies' the claim. (© FlaglerLive)

Sheriff Jim Manfre. (© FlaglerLive)

The state sheriff’s association within the last few months surveyed its members about open-carry. The response was overwhelmingly against, Manfre said. “I don’t know what problem we’re trying to solve,” he said.

Gun bills will be heavily debated during the 2016 legislative session, which starts Jan. 12. Along with the open-carry proposal, lawmakers are looking at allowing people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on college and university campuses and are considering a proposal to shift a burden of proof in “stand your ground” self-defense cases.

By a vote of 15-7, the police chiefs association’s board of directors — who represent law-enforcement agencies in different districts of the state — agreed to support the open-carry bill when the amendments are adopted.

In a “Red Alert” email Wednesday to association members, Executive Director Amy Mercer cautioned that the police chiefs’ group “reserves the right to oppose the bill in the future, particularly if our amendments are changed or removed or if other amendments are added that are found not to be in the best interest of the FPCA and our members.”

Lawmakers will consider four proposed amendments, which have not yet been filed.

One amendment would add a provision to the Senate bill. The amended version would include House language stating that a person who displays a firearm “intentionally … in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self defense” is not covered by the proposed open-carry law.

Second, both current versions of the proposal would allow fines to be imposed on people — including police officers — who infringe on others’ rights to openly carry guns, unless probable cause exists to believe that crimes have been committed. A proposed amendment would ease that standard for law officers, who would be required to have “reasonable suspicion” before stopping people to verify or investigate the carrying of guns.

Third, the current proposal states that no one who infringes on the right to openly carry guns — including police officers — would be immune from legal consequences. However, the agreement between the Gaetzes and the police chiefs association specifies that nothing in the bill would be intended to restrict a law enforcement officer’s ability or authority to conduct investigations as otherwise allowed by law.

“Sovereign immunity is a vital tool that allows law enforcement officers to perform their duties without fear of frivolous lawsuits,” Mercer wrote. “Officers will not fear losing sovereign immunity when investigating a person open or concealed carrying.”

The fourth amendment would require a holster for purposes of openly carrying a firearm.

The original versions of the bills have started moving through House and Senate committees. Matt Gaetz said Thursday he expects the changes to be added when lawmakers return to the issues after the first of the year.

“In the next committee in which the bill is heard, either the House Judiciary Committee or the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is my expectation that those amendments will be adopted,” Matt Gaetz said.

The Florida Sheriffs Association would not comment Thursday. But Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, a staunch opponent of open carry, said the four amendments wouldn’t make the bill acceptable to him — or safe for people who openly display their guns.

For instance, he said, if an officer arrives at the scene of a crime and sees someone with a weapon, “At a minimum, they’re going to be thrown down on the ground with a gun pointed at them — or worse.”

And if good citizen with a concealed weapon walks into, say, a bank during an armed robbery, Gualtieri added, “he’s going to take one in the chest because he’s a threat.”

“It’s not good for Florida, it’s not good for the economy, it’s not good for tourism,” he said.

Don Gaetz, however, pointed to the emerging differences between opponents such as Gualtieri and the police chiefs association.

“Well, he now will have the opportunity to debate that issue with his fellow law-enforcement officers who are taking a different view than he is,” Don Gaetz said.

National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer, who strongly backs the measure, dismissed the critics.

“That’s rhetoric. That’s reaching,” she said. “Every time we do something to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners, somebody will come up with a ‘what if?’ ”

–FlaglerLive and News Service of Florida

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27 Responses for ““I’m Against It,” Sheriff Manfre Says of Open-Carry as Bill Picks Up Momentum”

  1. Jon Hardison says:

    This is one of the stupidest, most harmful things we’ve done to our society in a long time.
    But there is no chance this isn’t going to pass, so I’d like to welcome us all back to the old west.

    While we’re at it, I’d like an amendment that eliminates property owners’ and events managers’ right to limit or restrict possession as well.
    At least this way the NRA will be the first group to stop brining their events to Florida. You know – cuz they don’t allow guns at their conferences. o.O

    Ha ha ha ha ha… we’re all screwed.

  2. Bc says:

    I have had a cwp. Since I was 18 years old now 65. I always carry when I leave home but I see no reason for open carry. I would not open carry if this passes I think the sheriff is right. If you walk into any situation where there is a hold up going on your are taking a round. Why would one want to flaunt that they can carry. I will keep my gun in my pants.

  3. Johny guns says:

    I’ve carried concealed with permit my whole life, this law is meant to destroy that right, now others with agendas will be open carrying, I see blood shed coming our way, this is not American. I turn my southern back on this trap of a bill. STAY STRONG GOOD OL’ U.S.A. and don’t be fooled.

  4. 30 year cop says:

    Well I am against Manfre being able to open carry. This man has never been a Cop, and obviously can’t manage them either. I would gladly pay good money to watch this Barney Fife look-a-like try to qualify with his gun.

  5. says:

    I agree with Sheriff Manfree. This country’s obsession with guns is out of control.
    The majority of people getting these permits are elderly, white men with an unfounded fear of illegals and most of them can barely drive anymore.

  6. Steve Robinson says:

    Good to see that our sheriff is on the side of sanity.

  7. Freddy says:

    I now carry concealed and choose to do so even if they pass this law but it is my choice. There are many States that allow open carry and do not seem to have a problem with it. I am more afraid of our sheriff carrying a gun since he could barely pass qualifying at the shooting range.

  8. policman1 says:

    As a current law enforcement officer, I have a serious issue with this. One of the very simple reasons being that a simple threat (possibly empty, usually harmless) becomes a credible threat when someone has a firearm on their hip. When people (as cops know) have a gun on their hip, it intuitively becomes a rest for your hand, and this in itself could make a person feel threatened. These incidents are going to be often exaggerated to dispatch, raising the alarm of responding officers. I don’t even want to consider how many law abiding open carry citizens will be shot by law enforcement because in the heat of the moment, they have a hand on their gun. What is this, the wild west?

  9. Stephen W says:

    As a concealed carry instructor, I think people are missing the intent..

    As the law stands now, If you carry concealed and your coat or shirt opens and someone sees the imprint of your gun while you are reaching for an item on a store shelf, you can be fined. This law fixes that.

    Drama Queens, we are NOT going back to the old west because someone open carries. Criminals are less likely to make you a target if they know you are armed.

    In the same way that you post a “armed with ADT security” sign outside of your house to tell criminals to choose another house to break into…

    Just my $0.02

  10. Rick G says:

    I don’t know but any clear thinking individual would have to think there are more pressing issues in this state other than open carry laws. I believe that any criminal after seeing someone with an open carry weapon would approach that person differently… like from behind and bang… Showing what you have is an advantage to those who would do harm to others.

  11. jbeagles says:

    As i read the article is that people with a CCW would be able to open carry? The purpose of the CCW is to carry concealed. I see no good in this if it were to pass and only create more problems, but this is our government at work…..

  12. Jon Hardison says:

    No need to argue the realities of open carry environments. We’ve got lots of them to look at. No one is insinuating that people are somehow going to become idiots. Idiots, however…

    As for the ADT comparison: ADT calls the police. It doesn’t pull a deadly weapon and start shooting.
    There is no law that says we all must wear our qualifications on our t-shirts or mood-rings that let everyone around us know we’re pissed about something.

    Normal behaviors take on an entirely different meaning when there’s a gun on your hip, and without the benefit of context? My concern is less about good-vs-bad than it is about good-missinterpretting-good which, of course, equals bad. (I’m a math genius so you’ll have to take my word for it).

    Disclaimer: Not actually a math genius. Fortunately you’re not in a position where a potential miscalculation on my part WILL KILL YOU or someone else.

    Current officers of the law: Now’s a great time to ask for a big old pay raise. I’m SO sorry this is happening – mostly for you. :-(

  13. YankeeExPat says:

    I am no criminal genius, but if I were to perpetuate a serious crime and saw someone with a gun on their hip, I am shooting them first.

  14. Sandra Reynolds says:

    If I walk into a Kangaroo and I see someone other than a uniformed police officer with a gun exposed I will turn around and high tail out of there. I would have no idea of the person’s intentions, law or no law.

  15. just saying says:

    I’m not sure how they teach patrol in law school, but there is always at least one gun in every law enforcement contact. Then there is the plus one rule. Not to mention the 21 feet rule. Law Enforcement is a dangerous profession, to think that a cop would walk up to someone without situational awareness would be insane.

  16. Gkimp says:

    I have seen people open carrying in another state, it does alarm the people around them you can see the way people look at these individuals. Also when Police Officers carry on duty their holsters have several “retention” features making it difficult for a criminal to gain control. The individuals I have seen carry a regular holster and it would,be very easy to walk behind them or even right up to them grab the weapon, possibly deliver a blow to their head and take their weapon. That’s my problem with it, just carry it concealed.

  17. Freddy says:

    Though federal law doesn’t restrict the open carrying of handguns in public, several states—including California, Florida, Illinois, New York, South Carolina and Texas—ban the practice, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Thirteen states require a special permit or license to open carry.

    If it was a problem how come most of the states allow them. Quit the paranoia.

  18. John Steele says:

    To listen to this the FORTY FIVE STATES that currently have open carry must be awash in blood. How can they stand it.

    Frankly i’m getting tired of the shootouts in the streets, bloodbath over parking spaces, back to the (Hollywood myth) Wild West”but we’re special, depend on tourism,” arguments.

  19. confidential says:

    Totally agree with Sheriff Manfre!!
    Plenty of bullies and nuts with hidden guns now killing each other and innocent people, we don’t need further intimidation by passing this shameful further harmful legislation.
    Maybe the tourist industry sustaining Florida will be further and negatively affected for good by these ignorant gun totting ,NRA money grabber legislators.
    Hey Welcome to Florida the equivalent to the Wild West where you can enjoy the beaches next to a drunk or high dude with a big gun or AK47 on the holster!! Isn’t enough that we risk our lives day in and day out with a nut/bully practice shooting or arrow target in a residential lot? Ridiculous!

  20. Downtown says:

    This is a tax issue. The State of Florida wants you to pay a tax to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights. If you can legally purchase a firearm and have the legal right to possess that firearm then why must you pay the state a tax to carry that legal firearm? Why should Veterans of the US Military have to pay a tax to carry a firearm. The government has trained them to use many different types of weapons to kill and destroy. Then when the veteran returns home to FL their told they must pay a tax to carry one of the weapons the government has trained them to kill and defend the country with. I think if you can legally purchase and legally possess a weapon then you should have the right to legally carry that weapon for self defense without having to pay a tax to the state.

  21. YankeeExPat says:

    “Florida-based gun dealer known for supporting NRA is linked to weapon used in Paris terror attacks”

  22. Anonymous says:

    I’ve seen this Mighty Mouse syndrome in the Bronx and have seen it national. The bravery factor multiplies immensely. Many a people are killed because of it. Cowards become brave with iron in their possession.

  23. Anonymous says:

    A shadow of a doubt will always exist for some of us. It will be substantiated with stand your ground. There will be more Michael Dunn’s.

  24. Rich Mikola says:

    What is the purpose of ‘open carry’? I’ve had firearms all my life, am an NRA member, deer hunter, and target shooter. The only purpose that I can figure is to give people with ‘low esteem’ the ability to impress their girlfriends that they are ‘manly men’ by wearing a firearm on their hip. Maybe it should be restricted to combat veterans of the Armed Forces, people who know what it’s like to actually fire a weapon at another person. The ‘ pansies ‘ can carry pepper spray instead. Real gunfights aren’t like video games.

  25. Dan potter says:

    I wish I could define sanity. Was the firebombing of Tokyo in 1945 sanity. Was the Holocost sanity. I suppose by a few.
    During a domestic ANY police officer’s worse nightmare is arriving on scene then having a person exiting the premises with either a handgun in hand or one strapped on. Legally he is within the law having it strapped on but to a police officer it is very scary. This applies in Kentucky where the open carry law is in force.
    Then you have the mentally handicapped that believe it would be acceptable to carry open weapons in public buildings. Just go on in to city hall and shoot the mayor.
    Kentucky has had the open carry law in that state for a long time and not one police officer in the entire state likes it.

  26. Knightwatch says:

    Let’s be honest, here. The desire to “open carry” is simply to intimidate others. Self defense is pure NRA nonsense. Older white men who carry weapons do so to feel “big” and potent … again. It’s the same as legally exposing yourself in public for the illicit thrill, the power it gives you. You think it demonstrates your virility, but the rest of us question your self confidence, your sense of self worth.

    If I am sitting in a theater, a restaurant, a pharmacy or any other public place and I spot a gun pervert, I will get up, notify the manager of my displeasure, and promptly leave. I encourage everyone to do the same. That’s the only weapon the rest of us responsible citizens have to fight this insanity.

  27. PJ says:

    Even if they pass the law I would still hide my weapon out of view. If your a bad guy you don;t need to see me first.
    They need to pass a law on legal gun owners change/where to carry a gun in public places as it seems like that is where many attacks take place.

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