Florida Police Chiefs to Back Open Carry Legislation

Allison Nielsen

December 11, 2015 - 1:15pm


A bill to allow concealed weapons permit holders to openly carry their firearms in Florida is gaining momentum with state police chiefs, who say they’re prepared to fully support the legislation come 2016.

HB 163/SB 300 would allow Floridians with concealed carry permits would be allowed to “openly carry” their firearms. The legislation would only apply to concealed weapons permit holders.

The Florida Police Chiefs Association, the third largest police chiefs association in the United States, said they’d back the bill, sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, as long as four amendments to protect law enforcement officers are included in the proposal.

"The police chiefs understand that momentum is building," association spokeswoman Sandi Poreda told the News Service of Florida. "And because of their concerns for police officers' safety, they wanted to go ahead and reach out to the bill sponsors and work on these amendments, which they believe will better protect officers."

Anyone who willfully infringed on concealed weapons permit holders’ right to openly carry would face a $5,000 fine. Government entities who try to infringe upon the open carry rule could face an even higher penalty ($100,000), but an amendment to the bill would lessen penalties for law enforcement officers infringing on permit holders’ right to carry firearms.

Law enforcement officers would have to have “reasonable suspicion” that someone carrying a firearm has committed a crime before stopping them.

Other proposed amendments would offer more protections for law enforcement officers, including a provision which would require holsters for openly carrying firearms.

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