JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After two mass shootings in just about two weeks, the grassroots group Florida Carry is reigniting a legislative push for change. They want open carry of firearms legalized – meaning as long as you have a permit, wear your gun where you want.
"I think it's the prime time to do it. There is no good reason for it to be illegal. It's legal in 44 states with no problem whatsoever,” said Eric Friday.
Jacksonville attorney Eric Friday is the lead counsel for Florida Carry. Since the last open carry attempt failed in the 2010 session, they’ve been tracking instances (even some local) of concealed weapon permit holders who have been arrested and/or prosecuted for accidentally exposing their gun.
"We have 77 cases where we believe officers or state attorneys have overreacted, or violated, somebody's rights,” said Friday.
The National Rifle Association is also stepping in.
But despite recent headlines saying otherwise, NRA’s former president and head lobbyist Marion Hammer told Action News they are not pushing for a new open carry law, just a correction to curtail what they call abuse.
"When you're walking down the street, your coat blows open and someone sees your gun and calls police, you shouldn't be arrested for violation of the open carry law,” Hammer said.
But Florida Carry wants to take it one step further.
“The best way to prevent the abuses is to quit making it illegal,” said Friday.
Open-carrying of firearms has been illegal in Florida since 1987.
One group that has been publicly opposed to this changing is the Florida Sheriff’s Association.
In a statement to Action News they said:
“The Sheriffs continue to oppose the open carry of firearms for public safety reasons. It is our policy not to comment on bills we have not reviewed. We are happy to provide expert perspective on legislation that impacts public safety once we review the actual bill.”
Florida Carry’s proposed bill is currently being drafted.