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Open Carry in Florida

The media seems resigned to the fact that this is going to pass. It points out some history of Florida’s law I was not familiar with:

Florida was, at the time, struggling to counteract tourist-scaring national media coverage of crime in the state, earning a Gunshine State tag in TV shorthand. In the week after the effective date of the conceal-carry law and the supposed end of prohibitions against open-carry, a number of activists walked around with holstered pistols. Lawmakers felt the need to act quickly, and did so. Gov. Bob Martinez signed the open-carry prohibition as soon as he got it.

I remember the media hysteria when Florida passed this law, and I was 13 when it happened, just to give you an idea of how nuts it was. In other words, in the midst of everyone panicking about the idea of people legally carrying guns, the politicians panicked that a tourist might see a gun. I seem to recall during that time German tourists, in several high profile cases, got to spend the last few minutes of their lives looking down the barrels of guns by criminals who were carrying them despite the prohibition on the practice. I also had heard at the time that car jacking in Miami was becoming so commonplace that there were certain places you’d probably rather risk the ticket and run the lights than stop.

Well, an amazing thing happened after Florida became one of the first states to make the leap: nothing really changed, except for tourists not getting shot and car jacking going down. Open carry is probably always going to be uncommon, no matter what the law is, if that’s what they are really concerned with. But it should be among the available choices.

10 Responses to “Open Carry in Florida”

  1. Michael Best says:

    That’s not quite the way I remember it. Granted it’s been a few years, but as I remember it. The German tourists ended up looking down the barrel of a gun, after the conceal carry law went into effect. The reason was according to an actual interview of one of the miscreants in jail, was that foreign tourists were the only ones who could be reliably inferred to not have a gun in their possession!

  2. Sebastian says:

    You might be right. I’m having a hard time remembering the order these things happened in. I seem to recall that Florida has special tags, or maybe it was the stickers, for rental cars, and when they made an effort to stop marking rentals as rentals, that dealt with much of the problem, because it eliminated the certainty those people were tourists.

  3. Robb Allen says:

    Yes, the local rentals went out of their way to ensure you couldn’t tell it was a rental car just by looking at it because those who rented had a considerably higher percentage of carjackings.

  4. Ian Argent says:

    This one I do recall; popularly, anyway, the predators started targeting tourists and out-of-state plates because of the increased chance of facing the muzzle-end of a handgun after “shall-issue” went into effect in FL.

    And I wasn’t particularly politically aware at the time…

  5. Miguel says:

    Rental cars back then had not only decals in the windshields announcing the company but were assigned plates starting with YYY, XXX and ZZZ. When it was found that this was what the Bad Guys were using to locate tourists, the practice was eliminated. I remember because I was visiting Florida to do some electronics shopping for a studio during the last days of the change over and I got assigned a car with YYY plates.
    I will support Open Carry in Florida although I will probably not carry. The way I see it, it will save me the aggravation of some scaredy cat in Broward County calling the cops on me because I accidentally displayed my gun.

    PS: On the rental car issue. Companies decorate their cars with a small No Smoking decal inside the car. If you get a car like that, remove the stupid thing. Nobody owns a private vehicle and has that decal/sticker.

  6. >The reason was according to an actual interview of one of the miscreants in jail, was that foreign tourists were the only ones who could be reliably inferred to not have a gun in their possession!

    Seriously, this is how it went down, except it wasn’t just foreign tourists. Anyone walking off a plane was safe to rob, because it was assumed that they were from out-of-state and unarmed.

    There was a huge spike in rental carjackings, enough so the distinctive markings on the cars came off. Of course, the media failed to even suspect the link, wondering aloud “Why?” just as loudly as they had echoed the “Blood in the streets!” FUD when the right to carry laws passed.

    This is the key issue that made me a gunnie and taught me mistrust of our media.

    Oh, and later the exact same thing happens, except that right-to-carry passed in Virginia, and the same media again failed to guess why the criminals were picking Virginia rental vehicles to carjack.

  7. One of the bad guys calling it “going Z-ing”–looking for rentals that you could be sure were occupied by people that couldn’t shoot back.

  8. FatWhiteMan says:

    I grew up in South Florida before the “Shall Issue” law and open carry was quite common. Almost everyone gassing up a bass boat at a 7/11 had a gun strapped on. The swamps could still be a dangerous place. The rule at the time was that if it took two moves to get to it, like opening a box or something, then the gun was considered concealed and was a no-no. It had to be accessible and visible.

    Shotguns and rifles in the rear-window gun racks of pickup trucks were not uncommon even in a high-school parking lot. Of course your bigger schools usually had a school rifle-range too so that their JROTC shooting teams could practice. I believe that most ranges that survive at schools today for scholastic shooting teams are mostly for BB Guns.

    The state has really changed.

  9. Jujube says:

    I grew up in Central Florida about the same time FatWhiteMan did and I remember guns being everywhere. Shotguns and rifles in the rear racks on pickup trucks were not uncommon and I even remember a fellow student who kept a handgun in his boot.

    I wish I could say that none of these guns ever caused anyone any problems but that would be a lie. More than one of my classmates ended up dead or “on vacation” due to guns.

  10. Matt Groom says:

    WOO-HOO!!! I’m stoked that this might become law, but honestly, I’m not gonna open carry anywhere that concealed carry is practicable. When I go out in the woods or in the swamps, I’ll do it, but I do it there anyways. Tourists are afraid of Alligators, but I think they are delicious.

    It will be nice not to have to worry about getting arrested because my shirt gets pulled up or my jacket gets blown open while I’m attempting to conceal. I don’t carry some of my guns now that I would carry because they have a propensity to print badly in some of the holsters I have, and I don’t want to get harassed because someone makes out a shape under my T-shirt a little too well.

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