April 13, 2011
URGENT! SB 234 Press Release - E-mail request from Florida Open-Carry.org and Florida Carry, Inc.
Please review the press release included below. Senate Bill 234 will meet the Florida Senate Rules Committee on Friday, April 15 at 9:15 am. We request that you send this to the members of the committee.
Please copy and paste everything below into an e-mail to the committee members.
SUBJ: Support SB 234 – Don’t give in to the same forces that fought us in 1987.
The Rules Committee, of which you are a member, will consider Senate Bill 234. This bill would restore the practice of open carry of firearms. The Florida Sheriffs Association has been lobbying heavily in opposition, citing misinformation and exaggeration. Please read the included press release from Florida – Open-Carry.org
When you cast your vote on Friday, please consider the realities of open carry and do not give in to the emotional and misleading speculation designed to persuade you to make a bad decision. Please vote in favor of SB 234.
<Insert only your name here>
For Immediate Release – April 13, 2011
Florida Open Carry
(A grass roots community of over 6000 registered members.)
Florida Law Enforcement Officers Push the Limit to Stop Open Carry Rights Bill.
The main provision of Florida Senate Bill 234 would, for the first time since 1987, permit concealed weapon or firearm license holders to carry handguns openly. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony regarding the bill.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Major Ken Davis told of a recent traffic stop of six Tampa Bay Outlaw motorcycle gang members. “Although the six Outlaws were certified gang members, and had histories of criminal arrests, most were also concealed carry permit [sic] holders”, he related.
According to Florida Statute, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services must suspend the licenses of those persons arrested or formally charged with a crime that would disqualify an individual for a license until final disposition of the case, and a licensee who is under an injunction that restrains them from committing acts of domestic violence or acts of repeat violence. Finally, the agency must revoke the license of a licensee who has been found guilty of, had adjudication of guilt withheld for, or had imposition of sentence suspended for one or more crimes of violence within the preceding three years.
One must conclude that Major Davis was either embellishing the facts surrounding the criminal arrests of the certified gang members in order to sway the committee, or his department was derelict in not reporting the disqualifying arrests to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for suspension of the licenses of those involved.
In fact, it appears that members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office may have violated the law in order to influence the committee members. During his testimony, Captain Mike Fewless stated, “I actually stopped by every one of you guys’s [sic] office this morning (and) dropped off seven photographs of some biker outlaw gang guys that have carrying concealed firearm permits [sic]. Those are the ones we’re worried about carrying.”
Florida Statute 790.0601 expressly forbids the release of personally identifying information of a person who has applied for or who has received a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. The specific circumstances in which that information may be released are with the express written consent of the licensee, by a court order upon showing a good cause, or upon request of a law enforcement agency in connection with performance of lawful duties. There is no exemption for release of identifying information by anyone for the purposes of furthering a political agenda.
Outright misrepresentation of fact appears to be a tactic our sheriffs are willing to utilize to defeat SB 234. Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson testified that open carry would be evident in the stands at next year’s Daytona 500 auto race. Conveniently, Sheriff Johnson omitted the fact that carry at a professional athletic event is a violation of existing statute, and Daytona International Speedway is a privately owned facility and has the statutory right to have anyone trespassed from the property for any reason, including carry of open or concealed firearms.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly in these times of fiscal austerity, were any public funds utilized to oppose the expansion of Second Amendment rights on behalf of the Florida Sheriffs Association? Although elected officials, like the sheriffs are exempt, statute forbids anyone else to be compensated for lobbying without being registered as a legislative branch lobbyist. This means that if any non-elected law enforcement officers were compensated for in any way, by any public or private entity, they very well may have been in violation of law. Were any publically owned vehicles used for travel? Did any of the officers use per diem allowance or stay overnight on the taxpayer dime? And how many were on the clock? But even if on their own dime, was it ethical to then wear their uniforms and, ironically, their firearms to the committee meeting?
It is apparent that member agencies of the Florida Sheriffs Association may be willing to embellish circumstances, bend the law, and intentionally misrepresent facts in order to influence the committee and the legislature at large in order to maintain their virtual monopoly on open carry. Ironic since in 1987, when shall-issue concealed carry was being debated, the same association stated they preferred open carry over concealed carry so their deputies would not have to guess at who was armed.
Florida Carry, Inc.
About: Florida Open-Carry.org is a grass roots movement of Florida residents who endeavor to raise awareness in the community of our second amendment rights. Our primary goal is to help educate others about their right to legally open carry and advocate for repeal of the general ban on open carry in Florida. Florida is one of only seven states where open carry is generally illegal.
Join our Facebook group of over 2000 members at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=133834343298930
Follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/FL_Open_Carry/
Sign the Petition at: http://www.petitiononline.com/FLOC2A/
SB 432 – Medical Privacy for Gun Owners
Criminal Justice Committee Hearing Scheduled for 2/22/11
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 10, 2011
SB 234 - FL Senate Committee on Criminal Justice hearing scheduled for 3/14/11
As most of you know, SB 234’s two primary elements, open carry and campus carry, have been gutted by committee amendments.
These amendments were proposed, accepted, and integrated into the bill without public comment or discussion. On February 22, 2011, the father of Ashley Cowie, the FSU student who was killed in an off-campus incident, presented an impassioned plea against the campus carry element of SB 234. Ashley was killed by a student who was too young to get a concealed weapons/firearms license (CWFL), allegedly was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, negligently mishandled a rifle too large to carry concealed for self-defense purposes, at an off-campus frat house at which weapons were prohibited.
The campus carry initiative has nothing in common with this tragic event, and the current ban on lawfully carried firearms did not prevent it. In fact, there are 71 campuses in the U.S. where concealed carry is permitted, some of which have been doing so since 1995, and not a single gun-related event has occurred on any of those campuses.
But the amendment to kill campus carry was passed by the committee without them hearing these facts because not a single proponent of campus carry was permitted to address them prior to the amendment’s adoption. No debate, no discussion was permitted. Ironically, after the amendment was adopted, a college law enforcement administrator wasted time allotted to public discussion to continue opposing the already dead element.
Likewise, the open carry element was saddled with an amendment that demanded impractical and unnecessary requirements that no other open carry state in the union, including California, requires. The requirements are for firearm retention training, a level-2 retention holster, and public display of one’s license in proximity to a firearm being openly carried.
The retention training requirement is not realistic for a number of reasons. First, no other open carry state has such a requirementsince there is no evidence that there is any substantial threat to open carriers of being relieved of their firearms by criminals. It simply isn’t happening anywhere else. Law enforcement will maintain that their officers must undergo such training because of numerous incidents of fellow officers being killed by their own firearms. But they conveniently forget that these incidents result from the officer’s duty to initiate contact and apprehend nefarious types, often violent felons who have no desire to get sent to prison. No such duty exists with citizen open carriers, and there is little motivation for the felon to initiate contact with an armed citizen when so many unarmed potential targets exist.
The requirement for a statutorily undefined level-2 retention holster again stems from this unsubstantiated and purely speculative assumption that an armed citizen is a ripe target for a criminal. Again, no other open carry state requires this because there is no evidence to support a threat. Indeed, if there was ever a candidate for mandatory wearing of a retention holster of any type, it would be for a law enforcement officer. There is no state requirment that police use a level-2 retention holster.
Also, by requiring a citizen to only open carry in a retention holster does not address a very basic function of the open carry initiative; that being the ability switch from concealed carry to open carry at will depending on conditions. For example, a CWFL holder carrying in a standard in-waistband holster concealed under a light jacket would not be permitted to remove his jacket.
Furthermore, level-2 retention holsters are not available for many popular makes and models of side-arms. Many gun owners will not be able to open carry their side-arm because no manufacturer has marketed their holster as a "level-2".
Finally, the requirement to display one’s CWFL in public would again, only exist in Florida. Law enforcement has universally discouraged CWFL holders from the use of badges, as this could cause the public to mistake them for officers. There is no reason to believe that the mandatory display of licenses would not be likewise mistaken for police identification.
The Supreme Court of Florida has ruled that the mere possession of a firearm does not suffice as reasonable suspicion for the purpose of detention, identification, and search of citizens, yet this requirement sidesteps the concept of reasonable suspicion/probable cause and in fact, authorizes police to question law-abiding citizens under the guise of “verifying” carry credentials.
Florida statutes do not require CWFL holders to identify themselves to law enforcement for this very reason. It is also quite ironic that in light of this committee’s passage of SB 604, the bill which permanently exempts CWFL licensee data from release under so-called “sunshine laws”, the public display of a licensee’s name, and on some licenses their home address, for all to see.
The true purpose behind this amendment is clear. Having no real substantiated reason to deny open carry, certain groups and individuals instead are attempting to make the practice so burdensome as to either discourage the vast majority of CWFL holders to participate in open carry, or to make the open carry initiative itself so unpalatable to proponents that it would soon die due to lack of interest.
And again, as with the arguments for campus carry, these facts were not permitted to be presented to the committee prior to adoption of the amendment requiring these unrealistic requirements. Through two entire sessions of the committee, the SB 234 supporters were afforded a single, 30-second time slot by a single individual, and this occurred AFTER the amendments were approved by the committee. This is intolerable and surely flies in the face of the concept of representing the people.
We ask members and non-members alike to e-mail, write, and call the Senate President Mike Haridopolos, and express your outrage over the actions of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
There is ample documented evidence to support SB 234, and nothing but unsubstantiated opinion against it. Procedurally, it is a travesty that amendments are adopted without public discourse, which has a direct bearing on said amendments.
We urgently need you to email Senator Haridopolos NOW!
Include “Please help us get SB 234 through committee” in the Subject Line
E-mail Helper (feel free to cut, paste, and edit to suit)
Please help us get SB 234 through committee!
Dear Senator Haridopolos,
This e-mail is to express my outrage as to the procedural conduct of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee with regards to the gutting of Senate Bill 234 without the benefit of public discourse.
An ill-conceived amendment to the proposed open carry legalization was passed by the committee without a single word from the public prior to its adoption. Each and every element of the amendment can be factually argued, but no argument was permitted whatsoever.
Despite two committee meetings addressing the bill, which still has not yet been voted upon, the supporters of SB 234 have been permitted a single individual to speak for a total of 30 seconds. Florida Open Carry Movement members from across the state were gagged in the audience without the opportunity to speak. This is a travesty, and only supports the notion that the committee is not interested in hearing arguments in favor of the bill for which they have no rebuttal.
We request your assistance in getting a SB 234 through committee and to the Senate floor where both sides will have the opportunity to present verifiable and documented facts, without the procedural maneuvering that is clearly picking apart this good bill.
SB 234 - FL Senate Committee on Criminal Justice
Hearing scheduled for 2/22/11
SB 234 is on the agenda of the FL Senate Committee on Criminal Justice on Tuesday, February 22nd at 9:00am. Florida Carry, Inc. urgently requests that you email via the members of the committee in support of Senate Bill 234.
This NRA authored bill comprises several separate initiatives. These include the option for CWFL holders to carry openly; a provision to authorize carry at career centers, colleges, and universities; the right to store a firearm in one's vehicle wherever it may be lawfully parked; the authorization for the Department of Agriculture to take fingerprints; the repeal of Florida’s ban on long gun purchases in most other states. Quite simply put, this is the most comprehensive carry rights bill since shall-issue concealed carry was passed twenty-four years ago.
Florida is one of only seven states where open carry of firearms is generally forbidden, excepting under certain circumstances. Arguments against open carry generally consist of concerns regarding the fearful reactions of the general population. Some have suggested that an open carrier becomes an instant target, having his firearm snatched by a criminal in line at a convenience store. The facts simply do not support those allegations. In states where open carry is lawfully practiced, citizens have become accustomed to the understanding that a holstered weapon is a danger to no one. There have been no wholesale attacks on open carriers, nor have open carriers been shot with their own weapons. Police officers are not fearful of open carriers as they know that a 5-year FBI crime study has shown that criminals do not open carry, nor do they carry in holsters. Criminals shun attention, something that the open carrying of a firearm invariably draws to some extent. Not a single state that has legalized open carry in recent years has repealed the right.
In 1987, open carry was outlawed primarily because of the predictions of wild west shootouts, blood in the streets, gun battles over parking spaces, and normally law abiding people indiscriminately becoming homicidal maniacs. The main opponent of open carry was Janet Reno, then assistant state attorney. She was able to rally support from a vocal group of police administrators with the doom and gloom scenarios. Amazingly enough, the exact same arguments were heard against "shall-issue" concealed carry. Twenty-four years later, and none of the rampant bloodshed predictions about concealed carry have come true.
With regard to carry on colleges and universities, it is not coincidence that most of the mass shootings in the U.S. occur on the campuses of educational institutions. To believe that a potential assailant would be dissuaded from committing mass murder simply because there is a law forbidding him to bring a firearm on campus is pure folly. Rape, robbery, assault, and murder have all occurred on campuses across the country.
College and university administrators continue to deny the reality that by prohibiting students, faculty, staff, and visitors from defending themselves promotes an unsafe environment. Often ignored by opponents is the fact that only concealed weapons/firearms license holders would be permitted to carry on campus, and the minimum age requirement to have a license is 21. Those students under 21 would not be permitted to carry on campus. Once again, the potential criminals do not care about minimum age or having a license. After all, there are no barriers to access on most campuses. Florida Carry, Inc. supports SB 234, and encourages all gun owners/carriers to join us in contacting the senators on the Florida Senate Criminal Justice Committee. Please tell them 24 years is enough.
We urgently need you to email the committee members NOW!
Include “Support SB 234” in the Subject Line
E-mail Helper (feel free to cut, paste, and edit to suit)
Support SB 234 – Support the Second Amendment
This e-mail is to express my support for Senate Bill 234, Firearms. As a member of the Florida Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, you will be hearing this bill on Tuesday, February 22nd. I respectfully ask that you wholeheartedly support this bill.
The predictions of doom and gloom that preceded the adoption of "shall-issue" concealed carry have been proven to be fiction. For twenty-four years, Florida concealed weapons/firearms license holders have proven themselves to be responsible to the extreme. Since 1987, only 168 of nearly two-million licenses have been revoked due to misuse of firearms. It is time to recognize that responsibility by giving those licensees the option to carry their firearms in the manner that is most appropriate to their situation, openly or concealed. In the 43 states that permit some form of general open carry, not a single state has repealed that right.
It is also time to recognize that criminals have discovered a target-rich environment at colleges and universities. Rapes, robberies, assaults, and other violent crimes continually occur at and near campuses on students, faculty, and staff alike. Concealed weapons/firearms license holders should not have to relinquish the ability to defend themselves because of a mistaken belief that criminals obey campus restrictions.
Please support SB 234.