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FL – OPINION – Even in gun-lovin’ Florida — where you can fish with an AR-15 — we have our limits

THE LEDGER.COM December 1, 2020 – I frequently write about what Florida does wrong. But today I’m writing about what Florida has done right. And remarkably, it’s on the topic of guns.

Don’t get me wrong: Florida is gun-crazy in many ways.

We hand out concealed-weapons permits like Tic Tacs, leading the nation. And we’ve pioneered the homicide-inducing stand your ground gun law — which was written by a lawmaker who is also a funeral home owner. (Conflict of interest?)

But we’re not all-the-way crazy.

Florida has refused to join the rush of other states to sanction the open carrying of firearms.

“Open carry” laws are why you see scowling young men cosplaying as military commandos in political protests in other states, standing often with AR-15s slung over their chests among crowds of protesters.

When former President Ronald Reagan was governor of California, he signed the Mulford Act, a law that specifically outlawed open carry, after members of the Black Panther Party began patrolling the streets of Oakland while brandishing loaded weapons.

The Heller case, a 2008 landmark U.S. Supreme Court gun-rights decision, stopped short of a blanket, unfettered Second Amendment right to open-carry firearms.

“Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited,” Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

Florida, despite its reputation as the Gunshine State, has remained one of only four states that prohibits open carry by law. And state lawmakers have resisted efforts by gun-rights groups to change that.

A bill to allow open carry in Florida passed the Florida House in 2016 but died in a Senate committee. And a year later, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the state law banning open carry in a case brought by a St. Lucie County gun owner.

In Florida, open carrying of weapons is sanctioned when you’re fishing, hunting or camping.

So every once in a while, open-carry advocates make a display of this exception by standing on a congested Intracoastal bridge, pretending to be fishing with their AR-15s hanging from their shoulders. [full article]

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