Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Florida Getting Riled Up Over Open Carry! © 2016 by Phillip Evans

As of March 2015, Florida had around 1.4 million licensed carriers of handguns. A good portion of them would like the option in the law to carry openly, even if they would never or rarely choose to deliberately carry their holstered pistols in any manner other than concealed.

There are two basic reasons for this. One is to stop the ongoing harassment of concealed carriers when their pistols become partially or fully visible inadvertently because of clothing snafus, or reaching up or bending over to pick up something, or because of a gust of wind. 

"Compromise" Not Always Helpful

A law passed in the Sunshine State in 2011 that supposedly addressed this was a "compromise" bill, SB 234. It was offered as a middle ground in order to keep full open carry from being passed, and was supposedly worded ("brief" exposure was made okay even though "brief" was left undefined) to protect citizens from harassment and arrest, but it has not worked as well as promised. These abuses still occur.

Simply decriminalizing open carry in 2011 would have solved with this problem once and for all, which is why it was pushed hard by and the NRA during the 2015-2016 session of the Florida General Assembly.

It's A Right - Not A Perverted Desire

The second reason is, well, the Second Amendment. Shall not be infringed surely means you don't have to hide your free exercise and expression of a fundamental human right. 

Handguns are not indecent things, though many left-wingers seem to have a fetish of associating pistols with a certain organ possessed only by males.

Perhaps allowing firearms out in the open removes the Victorian-type, suppressed-sensuality, fueled excitement for politically correct leftists who can no longer fetishize their twisted fantasies. If that makes them angry, I suppose they could seek professional help.

There is nothing vulgar about carrying a pistol on your hip in a holster as you go about your business. And nothing threatening about it, either.
Carrying openly is a First Amendment expression of your Second Amendment Rights. 

In 45 Other States, It's No Big Deal

I've shopped in various grocery stores with a gun on my hip, rode my bicycle on public trails, ate in many restaurants, played with my children at plenty of parks in the immediate presence of other parents and children, attended multiple crowded festivals, all while my firearm had no article of clothing covering it, and at many other places, including once at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport inadvertently when my shirt rode up over and behind my gun.

No one has fainted, fled in terror, or called (that I know of) the police to report me. Most people don't notice or just don't care, and some actually start pleasant conversations with me to glean information on how they can obtain their carry license, or to ask other questions about the law.

Liberty Deters Crime

In Georgia there is a documented incident of a robbery in 2010 being deterred by two customers at a Waffle House in the city of Kennesaw who were wearing their pistols in plain view. Deterrence is usually difficult to document, since if the planned crime does not occur, there is usually not an arrest. 

Read Ed Stone's article to get the details of this interesting case. He is one of the founders of Georgia Carry.

Open carry has been my typical mode of carry in Georgia for about five years, and I truly enjoy the freedom to not have to hide my firearm, and to not have to worry at all if it becomes exposed. 

I wear my exposed firearm deliberately by choice. It is my right. The sight of visible firearms deters criminals from committing their acts of evil. They can see and know that someone has a weapon that can stop them. Most criminals don't want to work hard, and thus seek out victims they feel won't fight back.

Thankfully, in Georgia, openly carrying a pistol has never been illegal - it's just that since 1910 you have needed to be licensed in order to lawfully carry one concealed or openly. 

In My Heart I Am A Floridian!

But we are talking about Florida, and I'm sure many licensed carriers there have the same love of freedom to exercise their rights just as Georgians do. 

Under current law, citizens may only openly carry handguns while fishing, target shooting, camping, or hunting, or going to or coming back from those activities. 

Unfortunately for Floridians who fully value their rights, their right to carry pistols openly was stripped from them in 1987, orchestrated by Democrat Janet Reno.

 Fast forward to 2016

One man, a Miami politician and RINO Senator, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla killed SB 300, the bill that was to restore it. As Judiciary Chairman, he did not allow it to have a hearing in the committee. Senate President Andy Gardiner could have overruled him, but chose to let the bill die. He is also a RINO.

Even though I am a Georgian, I love Florida, and wish to be able to exercise my right to carry my handgun openly when I visit. This is why I advocated hard for Floridians to be able to openly carry, by emailing and calling lawmakers in their state, by writing articles published on major websites, and by participating in discussions on Facebook and Internet gun forums.

Anger Brewing

From what I have observed so far, there is a good bit of anger over the failure of Open Carry to pass - probably more than the RINOs in the Florida Legislature might have expected.

Now, there are plans for more mile long open carry protest walks while going fishing, and things are in the works for activities that might be considered to be even more provocative than that, but still likewise completely within the law. 

In other words, peaceful protests are about to be afoot!

Provocative Ways To Protest

1. Open carry of black powder antique-style revolvers either made before 1899 or their replicas may be openly carried, even without a license to carry! 

Caveat: These weapons are outside the definition of "firearms" under state law, and therefore may be restricted by local ordinances, so check the city or county you are in to make sure you will not be breaking any local laws by carrying them. Also, do not put any modern accessories such as sights or grips on these revolvers just to keep them firmly in the antique category.

Note: If you want to carry them loaded, you don't have to deal with messy black powder. You can use Pyrodex Pellets as the propellant.

2. Modern pistols merely need to be completely covered to be considered "concealed". That means you can openly wear a pistol shaped holster on your hip in full view, as long as it hides your Glock, M&P, Beretta, etc. - every bit of it.

Holsters made for WWII P38 pistols have a lid that work great for this. These holsters are large enough to hold a variety of pistols. Make sure nothing is visible of the gun inside. Attach some fabric to the holster around the lid with strong glue to cover any gaps.

3. Spare pistol magazines and their carry pouches do not have to be concealed by law. Wear them openly with confidence.

4. Here is my favorite option: Openly wear a holster like the one made for the P38 and put only your spare ammo magazines in it - or keys, wallet, etc. Carry your pistol inside a regular fanny pack on your other hip.

This option is perfect for extra peace of mind from fear of a false arrest for carrying openly, because your gun will not even be in an obvious pistol holster, but hidden in a regular fanny pack, which is how many Floridians already carry their pistols! 

However, the visible, closed holster that no one knows what is inside will be your protest statement, as well as being a good way to carry accessories like spare magazines, or anything else you want to put in it.

State Preemption Protection

Options 2,3, and 4 all fall under state preemption, so you do not need to worry at all about local ordinances regarding them. Also, these last three options may be utilized ANYWHERE you can legally carry a concealed pistol as a license holder.

That means concerts, festivals, plays, fairs, carnivals, and other activities that are held on public property and in publicly owned parks are legal for these carry options. Owners of private property can always ask a weapons carrier to leave under pain of trespass, so stick to public property where you cannot be trespassed merely for being peacefully armed.

Impact Of Protests? Victory!

What about the fallout from this push-back type of protesting?

Well, understand things can only go one of two ways:

1. Politicians can move further toward tyranny and crack down on firearms carry, but where can they go with that from here?

Look at the options - other than black powder antique-style pistols, these are ALL concealed carry options! Really, what can they do? To be honest, the only way to restrict options 2, 3, and 4 would be for them to do some nasty stuff. This would not only further infringe on Second Amendment Rights, but First Amendment Rights as well. 

Trust me on this - they won't go that route! If they do they will have even those licensed carriers who have never pressed for open carry, in an outrage. 

RINOs for the most part want to remain hidden as much as possible. Portilla and Gardiner are special in that they are out in the open - but this is not the usual case. Gardiner is term limited so he doesn't care, and Portilla has to run again in the redistricted 37th which is even more heavily Democrat territory.

You will not see enough Republicans willing to earn the label of RINO to come down like Communist China on licensed gun carriers.

2. The other way they could go is to relent and pass open carry! Folks, this is an issue of liberty. Liberty that men and women fought and bled and died to preserve. We don't hide our free speech rights. Our right as a free people to keep and bear arms is no less sacred.

Put the ball in their court and force lawmakers to make a public decision. Portilla and Gardiner were their cloaks, giving them the cover that enabled them to duck and hide, and still claim they support the Second Amendment. Embarrass them to the point they must come out in the open. Shine that light!

In Texas, C.J. Grisham, the Head of Open Carry Texas had his members protest by openly carrying long arms (legal in Texas but not Florida) and black powder revolvers, until they finally got legal open carry of pistols that took effect January 1st this year.

Ramp Up The Pressure!

Publicly exercise all of your legal carry options every chance you get, and you will win this thing! 

As people around you know you are peacefully armed, they will get used to it, so when you get the real deal, it will be no big deal.

Some will never like it, but so what? 100% approval from the general public is never the test to determine whether you can openly exercise your rights.

A Small But Unified Effort

If only 1% of the licensed carriers in Florida rallied and peacefully protested, that would be about 14,000 citizens publicly demanding of their lawmakers to have their open carry rights fully recognized. 

Not to mention the numbers of others coming to Florida who hold firearms carry licenses that are recognized by the state of Florida. All of us can help protest, too!

How about 50 of us attending a major festival on public property in Tampa or Miami? No signs, no noise, no chanting, only mingling and enjoying the festivities, while openly carrying pistol holsters with no guns visible. What a powerful statement that would make!

And not obviously empty holsters, either. That would only be an empty protest.

Use closeable holsters that look like they might have something in them! 

Just don't let anything show if you have a pistol in it.

What if the gate-keepers won't take your money for a ticket if they see you with a holster on your hip? Easy, have an extra unbuttoned shirt over it, and then take it off privately in the restroom after you get in.

Remember, with state preemption you cannot be legally ejected or trespassed from publicly owned property merely for being armed within state law.

Civil Rights Violations

What about possible harassment from police officers? Only the ones who don't know the law will give you any true grief. Wear at least a small pocket audio recorder and have friends with cell phones document any abuse. And if abused, sue them!
Floridians, go for it!

And whenever I visit, I will use carry method 4 above to stand with you!

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