Florida Residents May Carry Weapons Openly
Florida is a very pro gun rights and 2nd Amendment state. Florida also has a huge number of concealed weapons permit holders. Recently, stories have hit the press describing how certain gunowners go fishing while wearing their sidearms old West style. As strange as this may seem, the openly armed anglers are within the law. Open carry is permitted under Florida law when the person carrying is fishing, hunting, camping, attending a gunshow or shooting. The law also allows a person to carry while going to these activities or leaving such activities. This leaves plenty open to interpretation by law enforcement and state attorneys. Many gun rights activists have taken to carrying a fishing pole in their vehicle at all times. Telling an arresting officer, “I am going fishing”, could mean one is driving from Pensacola to Key West to go fishing. It could mean going out back into your yard when you get home and throwing a rubber worm into the retention pond for bass or bream. An aggressive officer trying to make an arrest is going to usually ask a series of rapid-fire questions of the detained individual. The officer will be trying, on the spot, to disprove any story about going fishing, camping etc. Most individuals will probably talk too much and help the officer’s case.
Gun Show Every Weekend
Gun shows are a big business in Florida. Profits from firearm sales benefit individuals, dealers, promoters and those that lease the facilities. Private sellers carry guns around inside the show with asking prices marked on slips of paper attached to the weapon. Weapons are traded and cash changes hands. Gun shows usually have some form of uniformed law enforcement sitting at the entrance to the show. They check the weapons to make sure they are unloaded, then ziptie the bolt or cylinder in place with a small plastic band, and the person heads into the show. The show attendee will also have to answer in the negative about carrying in any ammunition. Once inside the show, at most 40-50 feet from the entrance, massive amounts of ammunition will be stacked on tables readily for sale. Huge capacity magazines for most semi-automatic rifles and pistols are at the same tables. Military kevlar helmets and body armor with ceramic inserts are sold at tables further back in most shows. At most shows, attendees can go from the main display area into the restrooms with their purchases and then return to the show without going back through any inspection by the uniformed officer.
Even If Legally Allowed to Carry, Many Get Arrested for a Gun Crime
Many people, although certainly within the law to carry their weapon concealed or in the open, get themselves arrested simply because their behavior changes once they have a weapon on them. For some, having a weapon gives them some sense of power, and the weapon is displayed or used in what results in an arrest. Florida gun laws are brutal. There is the 10-20-Life statute for using a firearm during the commission of a crime. A very common charge, particularly in Jacksonville, is the charge, “Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill.” One can think of common road rage where one driver pulls and points his weapon at the other driver while making a threat of harm. This is a third degree felony with a maximum of five years of imprisonment. The defendant here faces a three year minimum mandatory sentence, meaning the Judge has no discretion to go any lower if the defendant pleads guilty or is convicted. There is no gain time calculation on a minimum mandatory sentence. The sentenced defendant will do 100% of the sentence. A large component of these cases is the description or recovery of the weapon. If the victim can give police a spot-on description of the weapon that usually helps the state’s case. A gun owner wearing his piece to his favorite fishing hole could be accused of pulling his weapon on another fisherman. One guy’s word against another. The victim could describe the weapon and say the gun-toter threatened him with it. The gun owner, if no other witnesses are around, cannot prove a negative and will probably head to jail as the officer will, at a minimum, err on the side of caution. The state attorney files the case and a jury believes one guy or the other. Pretty risky.
If you, a friend or loved one is facing arrest or already have a filed felony for a gun crime, make an appointment with an experienced Jacksonville, Clay County or Nassau County gun crimes attorney. Ray Forbess Sr. has defended many accused of gun crimes. The Forbess Law Firm always offers a no charge consultation and/or jail visit. We can be reached at 904-634-0900.