The state of Florida may now have permitless concealed carry, but there’s still no open carry in the state. At least, not unless you’re hunting or fishing.
It’s a weird quirk of how things work down there but considering all the Florida Man stories, it’s not even an overly surprising quirk.
However, it seems that a recent court case has expanded Floridians’ open carry options just a smidge.
From Burns v. State, decided today by the Florida Court of Appeal, in an opinion by Judge Ed Artau, joined by Judges Cory Ciklin and Burton Conner:
That a person’s home is his or her “castle” is one of the most basic tenets of our jurisprudence. However, for Richard Burns …, charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for openly carrying and loading his firearm in the yard of his own home, the “castle” our law entitled him to protect was relegated to a defenseless dungeon. We conclude that the trial court erred in denying his motion for immunity from prosecution pursuant to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. We therefore grant his petition for writ of prohibition because he is legally entitled to immunity from prosecution on the aggravated assault charge….
Florida grants to all persons who have not been legally disqualified from owning, possessing, and using firearms not only an individual state constitutional right “to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves,” but also the statutory right “to own, possess, and lawfully use” weapons, including firearms, at a person’s “home or place of business” without the restrictions against the open carrying of weapons or firearms imposed by section 790.053, Florida Statutes (2020), or the requirements of a concealed carry license imposed by section 790.06, Florida Statutes (2020).
In other words, Florida provides a statutory right to openly carry a weapon or firearm while on one’s home property or place of business. Even when one is not at his or her home property or place of business, it is not unlawful in Florida to “briefly and openly display” a lawfully carried firearm “to the ordinary sight of another person,” so long as the firearm is not being “intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner” when the display of the firearm is “not in necessary self-defense.”
Basically, the court found that Florida residents loading and openly carrying a firearm wasn’t a criminal use of deadly force so long as one was in their own yard.
Admittedly, it’s not much.
However, there’s an interesting part here. While having a gun “print”–when the outline of the gun is visible through clothing–isn’t illegal in Florida, some might try to prosecute the odd flash of a holstered and concealed weapon. Based on this ruling, that’s not illegal. In fact, it explicitly says, “it is not unlawful in Florida to ‘briefly and openly display’ a lawfully carried firearm…so long as the firearm is not being ‘intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner’.”
So, there’s that, at least.
That said, I don’t know if anyone has ever been prosecuted for that in the first place, so it may not be relevant.
Still, the fact that one can load and have a firearm handy without it being concealed in your yard is, ultimately, a good thing and likely to be useful. While this case involved someone dealing with unsavory people, many would likely do so because of wildlife like snakes and coyotes.
Now, there’s a ruling protecting just this activity, even if you’re not hunting or fishing.
With luck, the state legislature can address open carry more broadly next year and put an end to this particular flavor of stupid in Florida.