Could Florida reinstate open carry?


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Controversial gun bills dominated the early part of legislative session but ultimately fizzled out for 2016. The courts could end up deciding if Florida reinstates open carry.

Only five states, including Florida, ban some form of open carry.

Dale Norman was arrested and charged in Fort Pierce, Florida, in 2012. He was openly carrying his gun in a holster. He had a concealed carry permit but was violating it under state law. He was hit with a misdemeanor and a $300 fine.

Norman and gun rights group Florida Carry have been appealing the decision ever since. Now it will be in the hands of the state’s high court. The Florida Supreme Court will hear the case in June.

"Our contention is (that) you can't have a fundamental right if it is something that is denied to you and then you have to go get a license to exercise it," Florida Carry Executive Director Seana Caranna said.

Open carry was a hotly contested issue during 2016’s legislative session. A bill allowing it cleared the Florida House but had adamant opponents.

"Pointed down, but not pointed at anyone, but pointed down they could lawfully walk past a bank, past a bar, past a school," Rep. Dave Kerner said. 

Rep. Matt Gaetz said the legislation will come up again if the court doesn’t rule in Norman’s favor.

"Had we passed the open carry legislation that I offered, I think we would have really taken a giant leap toward the restoration of people's Second Amendment rights," Gaetz said. "But there's also the question of whether or not a permit should even be required at all under a right guaranteed by the Constitution." 

A crucial Florida Senate committee blocked the bill from being heard in that chamber, shooting down its chances of becoming law.