State Rep. Matt Gaetz is leading the latest attempt to pass an “open carry” gun law in Florida.
The Shalimar Republican filed HB 163 on Monday; in part, the bill would allow a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm or weapon to “also openly carry such firearm or weapon.”
In a Facebook post in July, Gaetz – who is seeking the Senate seat held by his father, former Senate President Don Gaetz – called Florida “an outlier” in prohibiting the open carry of firearms.
“Texas recently made the change and it’s time we change too,” he wrote. “Share if you believe in protecting our 2nd Amendment freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.”
The bill also amends Florida Statutes to allow police to arrest without warrant and upon probable cause, the unlicensed carrying of a concealed weapon, as “a breach of peace.”
According to OpenCarry.org, Florida law currently does not allow open carry of weapons, either outside or in vehicles. A person 18 or older to may possess a concealed firearm in their car, without a license, if the firearm is “securely encased,” meaning in a glove compartment, whether or not locked; snapped in a holster; in a gun case, whether or not locked; in a zippered gun case; or in a closed box or container that requires a lid or cover to be opened for access.
Gun owners, under certain circumstances, can legally open carry a loaded firearm, such as while engaged in, or going to and from, fishing, hunting, and camping. HB 163 would change that to allow the open carry of a weapon “for purposes of lawful self-defense” a firearm or electronic weapon including chemical spray, a nonlethal stun gun or dart-firing stun gun or other nonlethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes.