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.”