AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Palm Beach Police Chief Nicholas Caristo really wants to see some changes to the state’s open carry law. Many gun owners want changes as well, but the two sides are moving in the opposite direction. While groups like Florida Carry want to see the state’s law amended to simply allow for the open carry of legally owned firearms, Chief Caristo wants the state legislature to amend the current open carry law to restrict the practice even more than the current restrictions.
Over the weekend, members of Florida Carry engaged in a public rally in support of their rights.
The group marched from downtown West Palm Beach to the Royal Park Bridge to Palm Beach to demonstrate the statute which allows people to open carry while fishing, hunting, or camping or heading to or from those activities.
It’s in response to a letter written by Chief Caristo to Senator Bobby Powell asking the state legislature to amendment that would prohibit anyone from openly carrying their gun while on the way to or from or while hunting, fishing, or camping, if it’s within 1500 feet of a school, church, government building, or guarded beach.
Michael Taylor, a member of Florida Carry and Port St. Lucie resident, says he is vulnerable when fishing before dawn and after dusk. He added that the state law is vital for his safety.
“I was robbed underneath a bridge and I was unable to defend myself with anything other than my fishing pole. Ever since that day I’ve open carried to protect myself,” said Taylor.
According to WPTV-TV, Chief Caristo’s objections stem from his concern that individuals open carrying will scare others.
“Our intention is not to infringe on the lawful rights of gun owners. We are solely asking gun owners to be responsible and not openly carry in the area of Schools, Houses of Worship, Government Buildings and crowded beaches. With recent events… we are asking gun owners to not intentionally place people in fear. Despite a retaliatory e-mail from Florida Carry, Chief Caristo stands firm on his commitment to protect the community.”
I’m not sure what a “retaliatory e-mail” is, exactly, but if Chief Caristo feels like he needs to “protect the community” from legal gun owners, he should spend less time attacking them and more time getting to know them.
If Caristo’s only concern is that some folks might be freaked out by the sight of someone open carrying within a half-mile of a school or a beach, that’s not good enough, in my opinion, to try to further restrict the right to keep and bear arms. After all, many of those individuals are also scared of the fact that there are more than one million Floridians who are lawfully carrying a concealed firearm. Is that an argument against scrapping the state’s concealed carry law?
Of course not. It’s a silly argument on the part of the police chief, and I hope that his proposed amendments are rejected by lawmakers in Tallahassee this year.