As of the time I'm writing this: Dec 13th, 2016, there is a pre-filed bill in the Senate of the Florida State Legislature, SB 140, which decriminalizes the open carry of pistols and also decriminalizes carrying a pistol into some places which are now off-limits - but only for those who are licensed to carry.
You know, those folks* that are statistically proven to be six times more law-abiding than law-enforcement officers. In case it's not clear, these folks are "regular" or "mere" citizens (take your pick) who took the trouble to become licensed to carry a handgun in Florida.
Criminals don't get this pass. They'll have to continue to carry unlawfully. And if you believe they'll carry openly when this bill becomes law, I'll give you a huge discount on some swamp property!
Jackbarb posted the following comment at the Sun Sentinel: "Other than the intimidation faction, why would you want to open carry?"
Well, it depends on who is being intimidated. Since most criminals are opportunistic and don't want to work hard for their income, they look for easy prey... Someone that at least APPEARS to be un-armed. A person carrying a holstered pistol in plain view doesn't fit this description of easy prey.
THAT's an intimidation factor right there. And a good one at that!
Frankly, I want this type of criminal to know that others are better choices for them to assault. Criminals are stupid but not THAT stupid. They know where they can find people that won't shoot them, even if they slip up once in a while and miscalculate.
Yes, I suppose a crazed thug might intentionally target me because he sees that I am armed, but those criminals are rare compared to the common ones. I accept this small risk, because I have some ways to deal with even that kind of animal. However, nothing in life is perfect, even for those that conceal. Fumbling while drawing from a cover garment can cost you a precious second that could be fatal.
But, but, what about all those timid soccer moms that will grab their kids and flee the area if a, <GASP!> NON-badged person walks by wearing a g-g-gun all out in the open?
Frankly, as a frequent carrier of a visible pistol in public carried with nary a stitch of clothing over it, this has not been my experience. Even in crowded places such as Stone Mountain Park in Georgia, Atlanta city parks during crowded festivals, and other places I carry at in public.
And those that might care don't do anything about it, such as leave or at least call the police to report a lawful activity (at least legal in about 45 states). Those that might point and whisper in a restaurant (when they think I don't notice) still stay put and finish their meal, with no visible trembling I might add. And good for them. It's okay to be curious. So much for intimidating them - which by the way, I'm NOT trying to do.
In addition to crime deterrence, I carry a firearm openly in order to help educate people.
I've had at least a handful of folks ask me how they can get their license to carry. I gladly give them the info and answer any questions on the law they ask if I happen to know the answer.
Children have come up to me to ask if I'm a police officer, although I wear nothing that resembles a uniform. I happily inoculate them against the lie that only cops and bad guys carry guns in public. So I guess you could say, I do it for the children. :-)
And, carrying openly is just plain physically comfortable.
It's nice in the Georgia heat and humidity to not have to wear a cover garment or stretch a t-shirt over a bulky holster and gun (which would look odd).
Finally, an honorable right such as being armed for one's safety and that of one's friends and family is something that feels nice to exercise in public.
It feels like freedom.
Call, write, and email your Representatives and Senators to let them know you support this bill! And ask your friends and family to do the same. Spread it on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media.
* When a campus carry bill was debated last year in the Florida Legislature, Representative Greg Steube pointed out that data shows that overall, adults with a license to carry are six times less likely to commit crime than police officers.