Do we really need “open carry” in Florida?

20150617-074

There is a law working its way through the Florida legislature that would allow open carry of guns in Florida. Let me first State that I am a proponent of the Florida concealed weapons law that permits over 1,384,000 people to lawfully carry a concealed weapon. Florida already has more concealed weapons permits than any State in this Country. As a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer and former Federal Special Agent and prosecutor, I have over forty years of experience dealing with criminal cases involving guns. I actually owned my first gun, a single shot .22 rifle when I was 12 years old. There is nothing wrong with responsible gun ownership and use. The Second Amendment is one of the cornerstones of our Constitution. Concealed weapons are intended to be used for self defense, and used properly protect lives. We need to keep and protect that law.
In my opinion, “open carry” of guns in Florida would be terrible mistake. Why does a gun have to be carried in plain view in public? What purpose does that serve? I deal on a regular basis with road rage cases, bar fights, domestic violence cases and thousands of cases that involve alcohol. Guns and alcohol do not mix. Testosterone and guns sounds like a bad combination to me. Imagine a society where young macho men are strutting around main street wearing six shooters. We had that once. It was called “Dodge City”. There is no logical argument, other than political grand standing, that can justify such a law. Would you feel comfortable eating dinner at a restaurant with your family on Siesta Key and looking around and seeing armed men everywhere? Do we really need that law? Why does anyone feel the need to publicly display the fact they are carrying a firearm? It is like publicly making a challenge to others saying “look at me”, “I am a bad ass”, “I have a gun”. Real men do not have to advertise their manliness. This is a feel good law, as many are, being promoted to get votes. It serves no useful purpose at all.
As a defense attorney, this law will create lots of business for me both here and in Ft. Myers. It may be good for business, but it is bad for the people of Florida. There is no way to legislate maturity or responsibility. Maturity comes only with age and experience. This law will increase police shootings. Imagine an officer approaching four young men on a corner, each with a gun on his hip. Even Wyatt Earp had the good sense to ban open carry in the city limits. I am a fourth generation Floridian born in a cow town on the East coast of Florida, and even as a gun advocate and defender of the Second Amendment, I think this law is bad. Let your legislators know.