New York Jets running back Chris Johnson was arrested in Florida on an illegal open carry charge… but does the charge itself make sense?
According to the report, Johnson was pulled over by police about 9 p.m. Friday in a white, two-door vehicle after an officer saw him fail to stop at a stop sign at Garden Avenue and Jefferson Street, in the Parramore area.
When the officer approached the vehicle he “immediately saw the handle of a handgun” as well as a black backpack with “$100 bills on the outside as a design” on the floor between Johnson’s feet, the arrest report states.
The officer wrote in his report that he asked Johnson if there were other weapons in the vehicle, to which Johnson replied, “No, that is the only one.” The officer removed Johnson and a passenger from the car, the report states.
However, the officer wrote that as Johnson left the vehicle, “he seemed hesitant to tell me something.”
“I asked him if he wanted to tell me anything and he replied, ‘Yeah, there is actually a second gun in the bag on the floor,'” the officer wrote. A second semiautomatic handgun was found in the backpack, which was open.
Johnson was arrested on a misdemeanor charge, open carrying of firearms, under a Florida statute that states it “is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device.”
The charge of “open carrying firearms” in his vehicle in a bag may sound odd for residents in the majority of states where open carry is legal and/or vehicle carry is exempted, but Florida has a rather odd implementation of open carry law.
You may NOT open carry in a car.
A person 18 or older to may possess a concealed firearm in their car, without a license, if the firearm is “securely encased”. “Securely encased” means 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 which requires a lid or cover to be opened for access.
The NY Daily News adds some detail, explaining the arrest under the implementation under the law.
“The firearm that was sitting on the floor was in plain and open view and was not securely encased. It was readily accessible for immediate use,” the report reads. “Also, the firearm that was in the backpack was not securely encased either because the bag was completely open.”
We’re scratching our heads on this one, because Johnson has a valid concealed weapons permit. In most instances—in most states—handguns partially or completely concealed in an open bag as described would be considered “concealed weapons” and the possessor would be charged for having an illegally concealed weapon if the owner did not have a permit.
It sounds like Florida law is written in such a way that a handgun must be on your person in a holster or “securely enclosed” in a bag or compartment to keep from running afoul of the law.
Gun owners are responsible for knowing the laws of the states in which they transport or carry their weapons.
It will be interesting to see if Johnson’s lawyer finds a way to beat the rap on this relatively minor, though interesting charge.