TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – A nationwide debate is underway on whether gun control laws should be strengthened in the wake of the mass shooting in Arizona in which six people were killed and U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was critically injured.
But one Florida senator has proposed loosening the state’s current gun law by allowing licensed gun owners to openly wear their handguns in public view.
The proposal was made last December by Senator Greg Evers, R-Crestview. Senate bill 234 would make openly wearing firearms legal in Florida for the first time in decades. Under Evers proposal any licensed gun owner over the age of 21 would also be allowed to “open carry” their firearm on public university and college campuses, according to the Palm Beach Post.
Its an issue that even divides those at the Patriots Gun Club in Homestead. “Personally I am for it,” said Matthew Oakey, a firearms instructor and NRA recruiter. “My point of view is to let the bad guy know that I’m a good guy and I’m carrying legally, They can see it.”
Jorge Coronado supports others right to carry their guns out in the open, but he said it’s not a practice he would like to do. Even though he carries his gun with him every where he goes, everyday. “I would not want to carry a weapon openly,” said Coronado. “It kinda makes you a target to some people. If somebody wants to do some harm to you and they carry a gun.”
Evers said not only would it be a crime deterrent but people who have concealed weapons permits would not be punished if their guns are accidentally exposed.
Currently 43 states have “open carry” laws which do play limitations on where a weapon can be worn; schools and such are off-limits, according to the website opencarry.org. Florida makes the list of seven states which prohibit “open carry” except in circumstances where the gun owner is going to directly to or from target shooting, hunting or camping excursions.
The Washington-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has firmly opposed the bill. South Florida spokeswoman Dana Sanchez said if the bill passes, legal firearms could easily be taken during robberies.
“To me its ridiculous that in the 21st century we’re returning to going to fear mongering because i have this gun at the side of my holster my hip,” said Sanchez. “You need to respect me and don’t cross me. We should be further along in human relations.”
But Oakey said most holsters have several security locks that would prevent a gun from being quickly jacked from its owner.
Florida is not the only state debating “open carry” legislation. Brian Malte, with the Brady Center, said Texas is also considering a bill that would allow it and in California, where there is no law on the books for or against it, a bill was introduced earlier this year to ban it.
Source: The Palm Beach Post