Home»Commentary»Senator Portilla, R-Miami, Holds the Key to Florida Open Carry

Senator Portilla, R-Miami, Holds the Key to Florida Open Carry

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Article first appeared at Ammoland.com

Ammoland – The Florida open carry bill has moved out of Committee in the Florida House.  It will likely be voted on by the full House in the next few weeks.  From cbslocal.com:

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – A bill that would allow Florida gun owners to openly carry their weapons is headed to a full vote.

The bill cleared a committee vote 12 to 4 on Thursday.

The next step will be a full vote by the Florida House in the next few weeks.

The difficulty lies in the Senate, where Senator Portilla is Chair of the Judiciary Committee holding he bill.

From tcpalm.com:

Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, said he would consider the failure of the House amendment and may decide to block Gaetz’s bill.

Portilla says that he is concerned about the effect of open carry on the tourist trade:

Diaz de la Portilla said he was concerned the proposed law would create a bad impression on tourists who would see Floridians walking around with handguns.

This is the best chance in years to pass licensed open carry in Florida.  Florida is one of only five states where the open carry of handguns is generally banned.  The ban is the creation of Janet Reno, the former Clinton Attorney General, of the Waco massacre fame.  In 1987, when Florida passed its highly successful shall issue concealed carry license law, open carry was legal, except for a few urban areas.  With the concealed carry reform, the legislature passed state preemption to make gun laws uniform throughout the state.

Janet Reno created a government led coalition to lobby for an open carry ban.  She was able to have the ban passed in a special session without going through the usual committee or public vetting processes.  It has been in place ever since, though there have been several attempts at reform.

The open carry reform is popular with Republicans.  The Florida Police Chiefs Association has come out in favor of the law, with some qualifiers:

  • Those who display a firearm “intentionally … in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self defense” are not protected by the open-carry law in question.
  • Currently, the proposed law lets people or police officers who impose on someone’s right to bear a handgun openly to be fined, unless probable cause for the interference exists; the amendment makes it easier for officers, requiring only “reasonable suspicion” before stopping people to investigate.
  • The bill could currently inhibit police officers from conducting investigations against open carriers, and the third amendment specifies that nothing in the bill would be intended to restrict a law enforcement officer’s ability or authority to conduct legal investigations.
  • The firearm must be carried in a holster.

The Florida Sheriffs Association has voted against the bill, with a minority in favor of it.

Senator Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, seems to be the obstacle to the bills passage at this time.  The major objection to the bill appears to be aesthetics.

People who do not want citizens to have guns, do not wish to see them, even though the concealed carry law has been an unqualified success, and the same people would be carrying openly as are now legally carrying concealed.

The concealed carry permit holders have been an extremely law abiding group, about six times more law abiding than police officers.  From yourobserver.com:

Consider, too, these facts, courtesy of Rep. Steube: “After 28 years of data in Florida, licensed conceal-permit holders are six times less likely to commit a crime than law enforcement officers. Specifically, permit holders only commit misdemeanors and felonies at a rate of .0002% annually.”

This bill is likely to be in play for the next few weeks at least.
c2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.Link to Gun Watch

About Dean Weingarten;

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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