Open carry could be coming to Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Capitol News Service) – Florida owns the record for concealed carry permits in the country. But more than one million Floridians with those permits could soon be able to walk around with their guns on display.

45 states allow some type of open carry of firearms. Florida is one of only five that outlaw it, but that could change soon.

State Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar) says his open carry proposal is restoring Second Amendment rights and will lower crime.

“The crime rates in key categories like aggravated assault, murder, robbery — those crime rates are lower in states that allow open carry,” he said. “So the suggestion by some of the shrill voices who oppose the Second Amendment that this will lead to the wild, wild, west is not born out by any of the evidence maintained by the department of justice.”

But not everyone is going in guns blazing on the idea. Retiree and parent Shawn Bartlet says she feels safe right now without open carry.

SLIDESHOW: Where you can’t take your gun with concealed carry license in Florida

“There’s a reason Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson doesn’t walk around with his shirt off all the time. It’s scary, it’s intimidating…I don’t want to be on the beach in Siesta Key next to some person who feels that they have to have a handgun in their hand to feel safe,” she said.

The bill passed its first committee, but democrats who oppose it are worried about just anyone walking down the street carrying a gun in their hands.

“What we’re talking about is allowing people to walk down the street with a firearm in their hand, pointed down, not pointed at anyone. They can lawfully walk past a bank, past a bar, past a school,” said Rep. Dave Kerner (D-Lake Worth).

Law enforcement groups have yet to take an official position on the bill.

Rep. Matt Gaetz’s father, State Senator Don Gaetz, filed the Senate’s version of the bill, but that has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

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