There are probably people that would say, “Yes!” if asked whether Florida’s current legal climate unconstitutionally limits the rights of citizens to carry guns; while some will disagree with that opinion. Lawyers in Florida, politicians, anti-gun groups, pro-gun groups, and all others in between have different opinions on the issue because the answer isn’t straight forward.
Both extremes, pro- and anti-gun groups, alike, have validity to the concerns that they have surrounding the issue. As a United States citizen, I want the full protections and benefits of constitutional rights that have been guaranteed to each of us, although, I feel somewhat uneasy at the thought of people walking around openly with guns in their hands or on their hips like cowboys. However, my feelings and the feelings of those that agree or disagree is not what are important. The important thing to consider is what the law requires, specifically the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution.
The 2nd amendment to the United States Constitution declares, “[. . .] the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Florida’s Constitution, in Section 8 of Article I, states, “[t]he right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.” Exercising it’s police powers, the State of Florida in its own constitution puts a qualifier on the right to bear arms granted in the U.S. Constitution by adding that the State may regulate the manner in which it’s citizens bears arms.
Florida Statute 790.53 makes it illegal to openly carry a firearm. A person must be issued a concealed weapons permit before he or she can legally carry a concealed weapon on his or her person. Carrying a concealed firearm without a permit is a 3rd degree felony in Florida, under F.S. 790.01. However, according to the court in Crane v. Department of State, Division of Licensing, being issued a concealed weapons permit is a privilege, rather than a right.
This is where the waters get muddied. There is a right to bear arms, but you can’t openly carry a gun in Florida without the risk of being arrested, even if you have a concealed weapons permit. Dale Norman, a concealed weapon permit holder, learned this the hard way when he was arrested in Fort Pierce, FL. Mr. Norman’s holstered pistol became visible while he walked down the street, and a concerned citizen called police; Mr. Norman was arrested and convicted for openly carrying his firearm. So, if openly carrying a firearm is not allowed, even if you have a concealed weapon permit; carrying a concealed gun without a permit is illegal; and receiving a permit to carry a firearm in a concealed manner is a privilege, not a right, where does the constitutional right to bear arms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution fit in Florida?
If you or a loved one is affected by the law regarding firearm possession, contact a Jacksonville Criminal Defense Lawyer today. Experienced lawyers in Jacksonville are available at the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC for free initial consultations. We can be reached at (904) 685-1200.