Greg Evers: Why open carry?
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 4:38 p.m.
In response to The Sun's Jan. 12 editorial "Sen. Evers' bubble":
In 1987 the Florida Legislature reformed the laws relating to the carrying of concealed firearms. The places listed in my bill, SB-234, where firearms are prohibited, has been part of existing law since 1987.
The technicalities of bill drafting often require including large sections of existing law be included in new bill language for clarity, conformity and reformatting purposes. Such is the case with the language regarding existing exemptions regarding concealed carry permits in SB-234.
My bill does not add additional places where guns are prohibited — such as the Florida Capitol. My bill simply removes some of the restrictions where they are prohibited. I, personally, don't have any problem with law-abiding people carrying firearms for lawful purposes while in the Capitol. But that is not what my bill is about.
My bill allows persons who are licensed by the state to carry a concealed firearm to also carry that firearm openly. The open carry provision addresses the problem of accidental or unintentional exposure of a firearm being carried by a concealed carry license holder. As silly as it may sound, if a license holder is carrying a concealed firearm and the wind blows a jacket or shirt open so as to expose the firearm, the person can be charged with a crime for violating the open carry law. This fixes that problem.
While some gun haters may not want to remove this needless restriction, there have been no problems in other states. Florida is playing catch up here.
According to the Brady Campaign, 46 states allow open carry. Of those, they say, 34 states allow open carry without a permit or license while 12 states require a permit to carry openly. While complaining that 46 states already allow citizens to carry openly, the gun banners fail to report that it has not been a problem in those states.
The only rationale the spokesperson for that national gun control/gun ban organization gave for opposing my bill was that "It is frightening to see people carrying loaded weapons in urban and suburban environments." I suppose it probably is particularly frightening to criminals who are afraid of being shot if they try to rob a person or a store in the presence of an armed citizen.
If law-abiding people are afraid of guns they can see, they can simply walk away. If they just don't like guns, my bill should actually make them feel better because they can't walk away from a concealed gun they don't even know is in their presence.
In reality, most people don't want to carry openly but those who do won't be a problem. I'll feel safer around a law-abiding person openly carrying a firearm because criminals will stay away. Criminals do commit crimes but they're not all stupid: most criminals will avoid armed citizens because they don't want to be shot.
Gun haters will always find a reason to oppose sensible legislation. And your editorial criticizing my bill falls into that category, but I appreciate the opportunity it gives me to respond with facts and reason.
State Sen. Greg Evers, Republican, represents Senate District 2.