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Opposing Open Carry, Sheriffs Instead Propose Immunity for Accidental Display of Guns

| January 20, 2016

accidental open carry florida gun legislation

The question will be what defines an accidental display. (Paul Weaver)

Florida sheriffs Wednesday proposed an alternative to a controversial bill that would let people with concealed-weapons licenses openly display firearms in public, but the proposal quickly drew opposition from Second Amendment advocates.

The Florida Sheriffs Association, which has opposed the open-carry measure, outlined proposed steps that would provide immunity to people who inadvertently or accidentally display firearms. However, a release from the association noted the proposal “stops short of Florida becoming a complete open-carry state.”

The Senate version of the bill (SB 300) has not been heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee. But committee Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, said Tuesday he’s likely to schedule the bill for a vote, saying, “I heard there may be some good amendments.”

On Wednesday, Diaz de la Portilla said he was still reviewing the sheriffs’ proposal, which the association said would protect permit holders from arrest for unintentionally displaying weapons in violation of state law.

The proposal would require that people intentionally and deliberately violate the law before they could be arrested. Also, it would take steps such as establish a presumption that concealed-weapons license holders are lawfully carrying guns; prohibit people from being convicted if they aren’t given a chance to explain possible violations of the law; and allow the expungement of arrest records under the law if people are found not guilty or charges are dismissed.

“Our proposal protects those who responsibly carry concealed and creates certainty in the law to prevent any unnecessary arrest and prosecution of gun owners who are otherwise following the law,” Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, the association’s president, said in a prepared statement.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the association’s legislative chairman, added that the proposal “is a solid alternative to opening the door to full-blown open carry, which creates significant public safety challenges for law enforcement.”

But National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer quickly expressed disapproval with the proposed changes.

“My reaction to the sheriffs’ proposal is not only no, but hell no,” Hammer said. “They’ve had five years to do this, to correct problems they knew exist.”

A similar proposal was offered in 2011, and Hammer said her legal counsel advised her not to accept it because it wouldn’t stop abuse of people with concealed-carry licenses from being arrested for accidentally exposing guns.

“My attorney said don’t take that amendment because it won’t work,” Hammer said. “People have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. The Constitution doesn’t say that the sheriffs get to say how.”

The release from the sheriffs association said the proposal seeks to address concerns expressed in committee meetings by Hammer and others about people with concealed-carry licenses being arrested for accidentally and unintentionally allowing guns to become visible.

“In announcing the proposal, the FSA (Florida Sheriffs Association) is asking the Legislature to consider an alternative proposal that closes the loopholes but balances public safety concerns,” the sheriffs’ release said.

Sean Caranna, executive director of the gun-rights organization Florida Carry Inc., described the sheriffs’ proposal as “woefully insufficient.”

“The FSA’s predictions of ‘significant public safety challenges for law enforcement’ echo the cries of law enforcement in Texas and Oklahoma before licensed open carry went into effect in those states and in Mississippi when it became the 30th unlicensed open carry state,” Caranna said in an email. “After open carry became legal in those states, law enforcement officials have universally admitted that their fears about open carry passing was all much ado about nothing.”

The House’s open-carry proposal (HB 163) has already cleared the committee process and awaits a floor vote.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

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16 Responses for “Opposing Open Carry, Sheriffs Instead Propose Immunity for Accidental Display of Guns”

  1. Berreta says:

    God given RIGHT to KEEP and BEAR ARMS ! What part of that do they NOT understand ?

  2. yankee says:

    god given? yeah, because Im sure god is a huge fan of guns.

  3. chopshop says:

    that’s why I quit supporting the sheriffs association. they want you to fear them, they believe only cops should have guns. they support gun control, it makes up for the lack of training of their sheriffs. when I go to the gun range law abiding citizens have 100 times more training then the sheriffs do.

  4. Knightwatch says:

    What I understand, Berreta, is that we live in a modern society in the 21st Century. This is not the 1870’s wild west. There is no lawless frontier out there. We have laws and professional law enforcement officers to protect us, and we have them so we won’t have to carry guns in fear of those who do. But there’s more. We don’t like open carry, or any carry for that matter, because that frightens everyone – men, women and children. And you know why we’re frightened? Because people like you are most likely use open carry to intimidate us, to ensure you can win any argument and to make sure we know just who’s in charge. We’re frightened because we know if you carry a gun, you are dangerous to yourself and everyone around you. We don’t want you to walk into a Publix and try to stop a robbery by starting a gun battle. We don’t want to walk into a theater and see you with a lethal weapon strapped to your waist not knowing if you are bent on mayhem or just another gun nut.

    Screw your second amendment rights. You want to carry a gun, join the National Guard. That’s the “militia” the founders meant when they wrote the second amendment. No one in America needs to carry, and display, a 15-shot Glock, or a 30-shot Ar-15, in public. NO ONE!

  5. Mark says:

    Right, put the burden of proof on the gun holder, that’s not infringement, just additional controls on legal gun owners. This is bulls hit!

  6. Shark says:

    All of these wanna be cops must be crying because they can’t let everyone see they are armed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Downtown says:

    If you can legally purchase a gun and legally own a gun, then why can’t you legally carry the gun for protection without paying a fee (tax) for a CWP?
    Why must a veteran , who has been trained to use a gun in defense of the country, return home and have to pay a fee (tax) to carry the same gun, for self-protection?
    The government has a record of you making the legal purchase and you have passed the required background check to make the purchase, so why must a fee (tax) be paid before you can carry the gun for protection?
    When was the last time you heard of a criminal being charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit? These fees (tax) are only imposed on law abiding citizens and it’s not right.

  8. Dave says:

    I think this state has more problems to worry about than concealed carry or open carry. Do something about the texting while driving, drunks on the road, homeless, drugs, pollution in our rivers and lakes not to mention our aquifer fix those then worry about someone carrying a dam gun.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Amazing how so many don’t care about the Constitution anymore~”Screw your second amendment rights” The bill of rights do not apply to just some ALL have them. Just because one does not like guns for reasons that are NOT reasonable does not make it right to take away the rights of ALL. Its no wonder this once great republic is in so much trouble when some want the rights of other like the right to keep and bear ,freedom of speech and freedom of religion Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

  10. Barry Hartmann says:

    Did Knightwatch really say “screw your second amendment rights” thank god you agree with the first amendment or you wouldn’t be able to say that. So I guess we can just pick and choose the ones we like. How about an executive order and just take ALL the guns!

  11. YankeeExPat says:

    God given?

    I checked with Jesus of the Bible and couldn’t find that one. Not in the Quran of Muhammad either, strike three as Vishnu doesn’t say a peep about it in Sanskrit tradition.

  12. Geezer says:

    Open carry is a bad idea. I’ll give you only one of many scenarios:
    You have your Glock at your side, still the guy who said something
    inappropriate to you continues to spew donkey dust….. Now you tell
    the guy to do something very personal with himself….Suddenly he
    notices your pistol. He desists. As he walks away, he dials 9-1-1
    to report that you pointed a gun at him. The dispatcher asks him:
    “can you describe the weapon?”
    He replies: “it’s a Glock pistol.”

    You now have a major headache on your hands because you decided
    to advertise the fact that you have a gun.

    Your gun should only come out as a last resort, in response to life-
    threatening situation. Ideally it should come out as a surprise.
    Only carry concealed. Just my opinion… Everybody has one.
    You know the saying……

    Seems simple to me.

  13. Knightwatch says:

    Yep, I really said it. Gun nuts, fueled by the NRA and right-wing political rhetoric, have taken the second amendment to an irrational, illogical and lethal extreme. The result is 33,000 violent deaths per year in this country. While I cannot confirm what was on the minds of the authors of the second amendment, I can say with some certainty that while they clearly envisioned “well regulated” civilian militias, they didn’t envision a country with 320 million citizens, owning some 300 million guns crammed uncomfortably together into ever-growing urban and suburban cities and towns with no need to hunt and little threat of invasion by a hostile country. They didn’t envision the lethality of high powered semiautomatic weapons with high capacity magazines full of steel jacketed ammunition.

    But that’s not my point. The point is that there’s nothing in the Constitution that precludes states from regulating the hell out of gun ownership in the U.S. In 2007, SCOTUS, with the majority opinion, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, the nation’s preeminent voice of right-wing legal opinion, ruled that the right to keep and bear arms is subject to regulation, such as concealed weapons prohibitions, limits on the rights of felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carrying of weapons in certain locations, laws imposing conditions on commercial sales, and prohibitions on the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. It stated that this was not an exhaustive list of the regulatory measures that would be presumptively permissible under the Second Amendment.

    To clarify my point, screw your “perceived”, overstated, overblown and misinterpreted second amendment rights. We can, and should, make gun ownership so hard to achieve that only the most determined, the most persistent, the most patient, the most law abiding and the most trained among us can get one.

  14. Bs says:

    I have had my cwp. Since I was 18 now 65 and I would not carry open even if the law was to change. Why would one want to show that you are carrying a gun what is the point, to show hey look at me I am a macho guy and don’t mess with me. how about if you are doing business in a bank or store and you are the idiot in there when A armed or 2-3 come in do you think you are walking out don’t think so. no need to open carry its a bad idea and this should never pass.

  15. Outsider says:

    I am a proponent of concealed carry, but I don’t like the idea of open carry. Everyone benefits from a few carrying concealed because no one knows who is armed, but know that anyone could be armed. Therefore, crimes on persons is reduced overall. Now, I am in favor of making it a non-offense if you inadvertently display your weapon, say reaching for an item on a high shelf or simply forgetting to cover with your shirt when you get out of the car. I have had this happen at least once that I am aware of. Knightwatch, the thoughts of the authors of the second amendment are readily available should you care to look it up. Their primary reasoning behind an armed populace was that it could resist a tyrannical government. That would hardly be possible if only the government could possess firearms, as you so desire. Does that make sense?

  16. DefenderOfTheSecond says:

    Knightwatch, please do not think that your right to NOT want law abiding citizens to carry weapons overpowers my right TO ALLOW law abiding citizens to carry weapons. That is the exact logic that has caused the problem in this country. So many people think they are superior to everyone else, and that only their rights are the ones that matter. Allowing law abiding citizens does not mean YOU would be forced to carry one, thats a personal choice. If you are so frightened by firearms then I suggest that you heed your own advice and join the National Guard to overcome those fears, and maybe learn what it means to be defend our Constitution. You Anti-gun morons always try to use events that have happened by people who shouldn’t even own a weapon against law abiding citizens….how about for once you compare apples to apples. Law abiding citizens do not commit crimes with the weapons they own. Now if you want to talk about criminals, be my guest but don’t confuse us EDUCATED, KNOWLEDGABLE gun owners with the criminals. Guess what there are just as many honorable law abiding gun owners in this country as there are criminals with guns…..and guess who is committing the crimes…you guessed it…criminals.

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