Court upholds ban on openly carrying guns
In what judges described as a first-of-its-kind case, an appeals court Wednesday upheld a Florida law that prevents people from openly carrying firearms, finding that the restriction does not violate constitutional rights to bear arms.
The ruling by a three judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal stemmed from the 2012 arrest in Fort Pierce of Dale Norman, who was openly carrying a gun in a holster.
A jury found Norman guilty of a second- degree misdemeanor charge, leading to the appeal on constitutional grounds.
The appeals court said the state law does not
“destroy the core right of self-defense enshrined in the Second Amendment”
and in part of the Florida Constitution that guarantees the right to keep and bear arms.
Also it pointed to the ability of people to get concealed-weapons permits.
“Florida’s requirements to obtain a permit for concealed carry are not so burdensome, or so onerous, as to make the ability to obtain a permit illusory,’’
said the 27-page ruling, written by Judge Mark Klingensmith and joined by judges Melanie May and Cory Ciklin.
“Nor can it be said that these requirements, unlike those found in other (state) jurisdictions, make the right to carry a weapon in public a virtual nullity.”
The ruling described the case as presenting a question of
about whether the Second Amendment forbids the state from banning the open carrying of firearms while allowing people to carry concealed weapons under a permitting system.
In legal terms, a question of
indicates a first-of-its-kind decision.
Norman’s attorneys last year filed a lengthy brief arguing that the ban on openly carrying weapons violated the federal and state constitutions and was overly broad.
“The state cannot ban open carry,’’
said the brief, which also traced the history of gun laws in Florida.
“It is the core of the right to bear arms. When every court to consider the issue has ruled that concealed carry is a privilege, and if you accept that there is a right to bear arms as the plain language states, there is only one manner in which firearms can be borne in the exercise of the right — openly.”
The brief said Norman, then 24, was arrested Feb. 19, 2012, after a concerned citizen spotted him with a gun on his hip and called police.
Norman had been issued a concealed-weapons permit days before.
JIM SAUNDERS The News Service of Florida TALLAHASSEE