Dream of ‘Wild West’ die in Florida Supreme Court

By JIM SAUNDERS
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Rejecting arguments by Second Amendment supporters, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a longstanding state ban on people openly carrying firearms in public.

Justices, in a 4-2 ruling, said the state law “regulates only one manner of bearing arms and does not impair the exercise of the fundamental right to bear arms.” In doing so, the Supreme Court sided with the 4th District Court of Appeal, which ruled in 2015 against a man arrested in St. Lucie County for openly carrying a gun in a holster.

“(We) agree with the 4th District and are satisfied that the state’s prohibition on openly carrying firearms in public with specified exceptions — such as authorizing the open carrying of guns to and from and during lawful recreational activities — while still permitting those guns to be carried, albeit in a concealed manner, reasonably fits the state’s important government interests of public safety and reducing gun-related violence,” said the 47-page majority opinion, written by Justice Barbara Pariente and joined fully by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and Justice Peggy Quince. Justice R. Fred Lewis agreed with the result but did not sign on to the opinion.

But Justice Charles Canady, in a dissent joined by Justice Ricky Polston, said the law “collides with the Second Amendment right as understood” in a landmark 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a Washington, D.C. gun law. He described as “feeble” arguments that the open-carry ban is justified for public-safety reasons.

“Of course, many people are made uncomfortable by the fact that others are permitted to keep and bear arms at all,” Canady wrote in the 10-page dissent. “But contemporary sensibilities cannot be the test. Such sensibilities are no more a basis for defeating the historic right to open carrying than for defeating the understanding that the Second Amendment recognizes the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.”

Justice Alan Lawson, who joined the court at the end of December, did not take part in the case.

The challenge to the law stemmed from the 2012 arrest in St. Lucie County of Dale Norman, who had a concealed-weapons license but was carrying a gun openly in a holster. A jury found Norman guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor, and a trial judge imposed a $300 fine and court costs, according to Thursday’s ruling.

Norman, who was represented by attorney Eric Friday of the Second Amendment group Florida Carry, then took the case to the 4th District Court of Appeal before ultimately going to the Supreme Court.

Pariente’s majority opinion traced issues in the case to a 1987 law that authorized the state to issue concealed-weapons licenses. She wrote that lawmakers also passed a separate measure that year barring people from openly carrying firearms.

The majority opinion drew a distinction between the Florida open-carry ban and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Washington, D.C. case and another case involving gun laws in Chicago. She wrote that unlike those laws, “which completely banned the possession of handguns in one’s home, Florida’s open carry law regulates only how firearms are borne in public.”

“Because this law does not amount to an entire ban on a class of guns or completely prohibit the bearing of firearms in public and does not affect the right to keep arms in one’s home … we conclude that Florida’s open carry law does not severely burden the right,” Pariente wrote.

Canady, however, pointed to the long period of time between the 1987 legislation and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the 2008 case, known as District of Columbia v. Heller.

“More to the point, the Legislature decided that the sacrifice of open carrying was a necessary and appropriate response to the public opposition generated by the passage of the concealed-carry law,” Canady wrote. “But the legal landscape has now dramatically shifted. Heller has settled that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. And Heller’s historical analysis points strongly to the conclusion that the individual right includes the right to carry arms openly in public.”

Thursday’s ruling came five days before the start of the 2017 legislative session, which is expected to include a series of debates about gun rights. Lawmakers last year did not pass a proposal that would have allowed people with concealed-weapons licenses to openly carry firearms.

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4 thoughts on “Dream of ‘Wild West’ die in Florida Supreme Court

  1. But then there’s this
    Trump signs bill nixing Obama-era guns rule
    By Ashley Killough and Ted Barrett, CNN
    Updated 5:19 PM EST, Tue February 28, 2017

    (CNN) President Donald Trump Tuesday signed a measure nixing a regulation aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of some severely mentally ill people.

    The original rule was part of a series of efforts taken by the Obama administration to try and curb gun violence after other efforts failed to advance in Congress.

    Using the Congressional Review Act — which allows Congress to roll back regulations imposed by the executive branch — the Republican-controlled House and Senate voted to send the bill to Trump’s desk.

    What was the rule?

    The regulation, finalized in December under Obama’s tenure, required the Social Security Administration to disclose information quarterly to the national gun background check system about certain people with mental illness.

    While the list of eligible mental disorders is long — ranging from anxiety to eating disorders to schizophrenia –those who would have been reported by the agency had to meet two main criteria: a) They were receiving full disability benefits because of a mental illness and couldn’t work and b) they were unable to manage their own benefits, thus needing the help of a third party to do so.

    The Obama administration estimated that the new rule would have affected roughly 75,000 individuals annually.

    And according to a report by the Office of the Inspector General at the Social Security Administration, 81,000 disability awardees would have met the criteria in fiscal year 2015, which amounts to about 9% of the total disability awardee population.

  2. Thank you Fl. Supreme Court: I feel much better knowing that my grand kids will not be caught up in a shoot out by red necks at the local mall, or at their school.. Remember Washington High couple weeks ago…gun in back pack…PROBLEM; Currently, the Florida house of NRA republican rep, are drafting a bill that would allow all gun nuts to carry fire arms everyplace. Do hope in 2018, we educated voters will vote out all those gun nuts before dumb #$%^&*( Trump wrights another exc-order allowing all of HIS supporters to carry guns as long as they wear they red dumb trump hat.

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