TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Supreme Court recently issued an
opinion to clarify the state’s open-carry law, ruling to uphold an
appeals-court decision that the state's open-carry law does not
violate the Second Amendment.
The ruling, which was filed
March 2, was in response to Florida resident Dale Lee Norman’s case
claiming that the laws infringed upon his constitutional right to
open carry with a concealed-handgun permit.
According to a column
in the Herald-Tribune, the suit’s background stems from an incident
on Feb. 19, 2012, when Norman obtained his concealed-carry license.
He proceeded to wear his handgun holstered to his belt in public, but
the weapon was uncovered.
When a citizen complained to the police, Norman was cited and
found guilty of violating the state’s open-carry law, which states
that “it is not a violation ... for a person licensed to carry a
concealed firearm ... to briefly and openly display the firearm ...
unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or
threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense."
Norman appealed the decision through the 4th District
Court of Appeal. The panel reviewed the effects of the law on the
Second Amendment. The findings stated in the opinion determined that
the open-carry law, referred to as Chapter 790, allows for
individuals to carry guns in public so long as the weapon is
concealed. The right to carry a concealed weapon is granted
by a license that “gives no discretion to the licensing authority;”
therefore, as long as an individual meets the qualifications provided
by the state, they are to be issued a license to open carry.
The Supreme Court voted
4-2 to affirm the appellate-court decision, with one member
abstaining. The Supreme Court's majority opinion quoted the appellate
court on the matter: “Florida’s licensing statute does not
effectively act as an exclusionary bar to the right to bear arms in
lawful self-defense outside the home. . . . [In] over two decades
from 1987 to 2014, Florida issued concealed weapons permits to more
than 2.7 million people. As of December 2014, there were 1,535,030
active permits issued in a population of over 19 million. No
empirical evidence suggests in any way that Florida concealed-carry
permits are unduly restricted to only a few people, such that a
citizen’s right to lawfully carry a firearm is illusory.”