Florida is one of five states that generally ban the open carry of firearms. As with all such states, exemptions to the general ban are included in the law. Florida Second Amendment supporters are pushing for a restoration of open carry rights in the state. Toward that end, they’ve organized a number of open carry events under the exception for open carry to, from, and during fishing in the state . . .

Spacecoast321 at opencarry.org relates what happened when he attempted to join one of these events a few days ago:

Well after a lengthy hiatus I was finally able to go the Open Carry fishing event in Melbourne. Sadly I RSVP’d too late, about an hour before the event, on MeetUp and the host (I later found out) had gone to a different event. I arrived and noted I was the only one there, but decided to stay and fish a little (I do enjoy it, I’m just not any good at it).

Talked to a fellow fisherman for about an hour, he never commented on my very visible chrome 1911, we were too busy talking about fishing.


A seemingly retired couple did walk onto the dock and engage me in conversation. The man was hostile in tone and questions, the female was simply curious.


Man, “I sure hope you are a police officer!” Me, “Nope”. Man, “Are you expecting trouble?” Me, “I sure hope not”. Man, “You expecting a shark?” Me, “No, but it is always better to eat than be eaten”.


Woman, “Do you need a special type of permit to carry it (my firearm) like that?” Me, “No, the Florida statutes have exemptions for some activities like fishing, hunting, shooting (told her there was a 4th but it slipped my mind). And while traveling engaged in those activities.” Woman, “My daughter has a pistol and practices with it a lot. Can she have it on the seat next to her in the car?” Me, “No. It has to be encased in some manner. Either a case of some kind, in the glove box or in the trunk.” I inquired if her daughter had a Concealed Carry permit and strongly recommended she acquire one.


The woman continued to have a very pleasant conversation with me, and openly lamented that there were too many laws. Her apparently annoyed male companion walked away.


That 5 minute encounter made my day. Lots of reading posts from other states where Open Carry is legal left me ready to deflect the hostile questions with short answers and an even demeanor. I believe that opened the door for the truly curious questions.

It is always curious to me that those people who oppose Open Carry for whatever reason feel no fear to approach someone who is practicing it and be hostile, critical and argumentative.

ps (I did remember that camping was the 4th exemption, but the conversation had already moved on)

The encounter with an argumentative person is a bit unusual. Friendly education, as with the woman who was curious about open carry, occurs far more often than hostility or any police interaction.

The four exemptions for the open carry of firearms mentioned above are in Florida statute 790.25(3).

(h) A person engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting or going to or returning from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting expedition;
(j) A person firing weapons for testing or target practice under safe conditions and in a safe place not prohibited by law or going to or from such place;

There are numerous other specific exemptions in the law, such as being a member of the militia “when training or preparing themselves for military duty”.

Another exemption in the code, 790.053 allows for someone who is legally carrying a concealed weapon to “briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person” as long as it is not in an angry or threatening manner. Open carry is becoming mainstream as more and more Second Amendment supporters use the method to educate the public.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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59 Responses to This Open Carry Tale is No Fish Story

  1. One more woman better educated, and hopefully you made the man’s mind just a little more open. Good job!

    • It is often included along with camping and hunting. Not certain if California law still has it, because of the many recent changes, but for decades they had an exception that it was legal to carry concealed *without a permit* if you were hunting, fishing, or target shooting, or on the way to or from such activities.

      Pure speculation, but they may have inferred that such activities take place some distance from regular police patrols, and might make self protection more necessary.

      • Since I’ve started hunting again in CA all I can gather is that you can carry a pistol openly or concealed while in the hunting area. Each BLM area is different and some restrict the type of firearms carried. Shotguns only for instance.

        Apparently I can carry in the panoche hills area, where I hunt, but it’s condor country and I have to have non lead ammo. I actually have copper bullets for my .38. I’ve known 2 people in my life that got treed by pigs when they got seperated from their rifles.

        Eventually I’d like to get one of the new stainless S&W model 66 just for this activity.

    • Florida has a lot of ponds,lakes, coastline to fish on. We also have alligators and water moccasins . i carry whenever I fish. On land or by boat.no one has ever given me a hard time.

    • The whole open carry exceptions was one of the “compromises” that Floridians got shafted with in order to get Concealed Carry passed. You can thank Janet Reno for that. The whole thing was sold as an attempt to keep the tourists from crapping their pants at seeing someone actually practicing liberty. The “going to and from” part was thrown in there because at the time we didn’t have a black and white legal method of transporting firearms to or from those activities.

      It is still a legal grey area when carrying openly while in your auto and the legislature has never settled it. As one of the gun-rights friendly lawyers here-abouts has said, “you don’t want to be the test case”…… So we wait for the legislature to do something about it. IDEALLY, to give us constitutional carry.

  2. The picture is a little shadowed, but is that a Gen1 or Gen2 Glock before the retarded one-size-fits-nobody finger grooves?

  3. To those who care the last part about open display.
    Is to circumvent the good old menacing charges that you would normally be charged with if your concealed weapon was accidently exposed.
    As in riding my motorcycle and the wind blowing my t-shirt up exposing my gun butt to the cop in the lane next to me. So don’t ask me how I knew that please.

    • Your comment piqued my interest. Not gonna rag on you, but….are you a squid? I can certainly see how that would make concealment a bit tougher. I’m working on CCW solutions while riding my bike, which is easier said than done since I’m a bit larger than average with decidedly nonstandard dimensions. Even carrying a Kahr CW9 in a belt slide holster was something of a hassle. For the time being I’m going with carrying a Ruger LCP in a pocket holster, but I’m looking at a shoulder rig for my Glock 20. I wear a First Gear Kilimanjaro textile jacket, which is just loose enough in the armpit to make room for a pistol. Also, while off-body carry has its cons and detractors, have you considered putting a pistol in your tankbag (if you ride most anything other than a cruiser)?

      All thoughts welcomed.

      Tom

      • Tom.
        I have been carrying daily since 1992 anything from a full size 1911 to a Sig P238 always here in Florida in a tuckable IWB wearing a T-shirt as cover, nothing more. I very rarely wear a jacket riding as its hardly ever under 70 here. Even in the AM.Tomorrow morning not withstanding. It might be 60ish in the AM.
        I commute daily by bike or my trike. Wearing Ts and jeans 99.9% of the time.
        Off body or in a bag is for me useless.
        If I cant get to my weapon while riding why bother to have one??

        One day while on my way to work the right side of my T worked itself loose. Exposing the gun butt.
        A deputy sheriff just happened to be along side me and noticed it.
        He hit his lights and siren and pulled me over.
        Not to ticket me, but to let me know it was slightly exposed. I went oppsy and was on my way tucked back in.
        Good luck with your book.
        Most who carry down here just wear an untucked shirt or pocket carry.
        Cops wear a T with a loose unbuttoned cotton shirt and say COP a mile away.
        Jackets are rarely worn down here. Unless it 70 degrees and your 100 years old and freezing,
        They serve no purpose in the sub tropics.

      • Nice jacket, but at 5-10, 300# give or take I’m a bit larger than a size 52. My 2012 Kilimanjaro is labeled a 3XL, but for whatever reason FG made them run large, so the 3XL is more like a typical 4XL. At any rate, it’s been a perfect fit for me, as a lot of 4XL jackets run far too long in the sleeves.

        I’ve been down before and road rash hurts, so I prefer to wear a jacket even in hot weather until it’s almost intolerable. I just moved from southwestern Missouri, near Springfield, to northern Georgia. Up here it’s still around freezing by mornings, but nothing like the Ozartic. I left Hellmart back in December, but lost count of the number of times I rode to/from work in near-zero temps, snow, ice, sleet, you name it. Sure it might have been a short commute but it was still like riding a block of ice with 2 wheels attached. I’d had enough.

        Anyways. My typical motorcycle attire is jeans and 1-2 T-shirts with the yellow jacket, boots, gloves and helmet. I layer up or down with the temps, a little warmer than necessary in cool weather because cold sucks. I’m looking to get a good pair of textile jeans (probably FG Kathmandu’s) to wear over my jeans for extended cold-weather rides and better protection, but for now I make do with some fleece-lined Carhartts (much tougher than most denim jeans).

        I had a Kahr CW9, planned to CCW it. Nice pistol for the most part, but after a few uncomfortable/awkward experiments with trying said pistol on I decided it would be easier to just carry a mousegun than try a whole different wardrobe. Then the job went away, and I moved to Georgia, where I’m currently waiting on my WCL here. No sense paying $200 in costs up there to get the permit only to move away. That’s partly why I’m considering the shoulder rig vs. tank bag. Tank bag may be better in summer where you can’t keep the jacket on when not on the bike, but like women and purse carry, you’re at that much of a tactical disadvantage, albeit mitigated by carrying the mousegun in the hip pocket and covering the tankbag with the jacket (in a shopping cart, for example). The jacket itself has pockets everywhere, most of which are big enough to hold a single-stack 9mm, and that might be worth trying as well. I just can’t afford to fill up the proverbial box of holsters experimenting around, however. Better a pocket mousegun than nothing at all.

        Ride on, guys 🙂

        Tom

  4. The case to restore the right to bear arms in Florida, as opposed to a privilege to carry concealed only, is pending in the 4th DCA. http://199.242.69.70/pls/ds/ds_docket?p_caseyear=2012&p_casenumber=3525&psCourt=4&psSearchType=

    The case is air tight, but I don’t know if anyone expects the courts to have enough integrity to rule in the right. After it’s done, Floridians should really meet with their neocon state senators and support reform. It was neoconning republicans that killed the licensed OC bill in 2011.

  5. Several years ago, about ten members of my shooting group were having lunch in a local greasy spoon here in southern AZ. Several of us were carrying openly. While we were eating, I noticed a tourist couple watching us very closely. I could tell they were tourists because they were wearing shorts and T-shirts in January. After a while, the male walked over to our table. He asked, “Are you law enforcement?” I responded that we were not. He asked, “Well why are you carrying guns?” I said, “Because we can. Welcome to America.”

  6. Interesting timing, I was just polishing up a piece on FL open carry I was planning on sending in. Any interest from the TTAG staff?

  7. Dean Weingarten – you are perpetuating the “guns must be in a case” mentality. In Florida, the weapon only needs to be concealed. You can have a handgun on the front seat covered by a towel, and that will satisfy the statute. There is no such thing as a “3 step” rule in Florida.

      • Stephen is right. The law clearly states “securely encased” which only means that it has to be in a glove box, center console, or anything else that has a closure of some sort. Even a holster with a snap counts.

    • You’re mixing things Brad. You are correct that there is no “3 step” rule. However, if you don’t have a permit, the handgun must be encased. For example, a handgun could be lose in the glovebox, and that is fine. It could be in a Folgers Coffee can, with a lid.

      Long guns can be anywhere in a vehicle, except hidden on your body.

    • You didn’t specify whether you have a concealed weapons permit, but without a permit, or if you have a permit and you’re in the car with other individuals who do not, your “concealed by a towel” example is completely, utterly, and illegally wrong.

      Fl. Stat. 790.25 (3) (l) states that possession of a firearm is legal for “A person traveling by private conveyance when the weapon is securely encased…” and “securely encased” is defined in 790.001 (17) as “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.”

      Anytime someone without a permit is in the vehicle, it needs to be in a glove box, console, zippered case, snapped holster, etc., or on the body of a person with a permit. With a permit (AND ALONE) it can be virtually anywhere, provided it’s concealed from plain view. So under a towel, under a newspaper, under the seat, under your thigh, whatever. Add another person without a permit to the car, and all that goes away again, because while under a towel (or under the seat) may be legal for you, it’s not legal for the other guy.

      • The permit has nothing to do with it, either. A concealed carry permit literally only covers you concealing a weapon on your person. It has zero to do with concealing it in your vehicle. His “on the seat covered in a towel” method is illegal either way.

        • My “green book” is currently packed away in a storage POD, so I can’t cite the exact info right now, but I’m pretty sure Gutmacher disagrees with you. I remember he specifically has a paragraph or two on “under the seat” and his final statement is along the lines of “it may be legal, but don’t do it, because it’s not worth becoming a test case.”

          The actual statutes specify “on or about your person”, which is usually where the under a towel/under your leg/under the seat falls, if I’m not mistaken.

          Because I can’t provide an exact cite at the moment, I’ll let it go at that. I’m not 100% certain at the moment that either of us is right, so I’d err on the side of discretion. I’ll come back to this post when I get my book back and can find better information.

        • So you think a gun becomes illegal if it’s in a purse on the chair next to you?

          No. Come on.

        • @Matt: Under the seat satisfying “on or about” would make logical sense (thought “legal” and “logical” very rarely meet). Michigan’s gun laws are different enough from Florida’s in that area that a comparison can’t be made, but that wording is VERY similar to our transporting of alcohol laws. Under those laws if I were driving with a minor riding shotgun I can legally transport alcohol only if it’s in the back seat behind ME. If it’s behind the minor it’s illegal.

  8. Sounds like as long as you have a fishing pole in your hand, you’re good to go, LOL. Works for me, finally get some practical use out of one of those things!

  9. That last part, the provision about incidental, accidental revealing of a legally concealed weapon, is why Florida may end up getting constitutional open carry. Florida Carry’s website has the full skinny (as they are leading the legal charge), but in a nutshell: A newly minted CCL holder was arrested for not having his IWB pistol concealed as he walked down the street. His was defended under the then brand new accidental reveal statutes and the judge ruled the law too vague (or some such) and wrote in his summation that concealed carry was a privilege. Florida Carry then appealed to the FL Supremes, that as the FL Constitution has RKBA as a right, then open carry must be constitutional, since the lower court has ruled that concealed carry is a privilege. The FL AG tried to get the case thrown out, but the FL Supremes denied the motion. The ruling is currently “pending”, but I have not heard when they expect to get an answer.

  10. If you cast righty, as I do, it might be better to carry cross-draw style on the left. So cast doesn’t… well, you know.

    • You know, I’ve never had an issue casting, even with my zero retention cowboy holster. Cast nets on the other hand are hell.

  11. When my wife and I went on our honeymoon to Tetons National Park I had the S&W 629 .44 magnum 6″ Barrel my father gave me that I grew up shooting. I carried it hiking openly I got many comments from other hikers “Lets stick with this guy he is ready if there is a Bear.” And other variations it was nice.

  12. As executive director of Florida Carry, the organization responsible for the open carry fishing events and plaintiff in the Norman case which challenges the constitutionality of Florida’s ban on open carry, I thank Dean for the plug about one of the causes on which Florida Carry was founded.

    Allow me to clear up the confusion that appears to be present over FS 790.25(5) regarding vehicular carry of a firearm. First, a FL CWFL absolves one of the crime of carrying a concealed firearm, a felony under FS 790.01(2). A concealed firearm by the stautory definition in FS 790.001(6) is:

    “Concealed firearm” means any firearm, as defined in subsection (6), which is carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the firearm from the ordinary sight of another person.

    Note there is no exception for vehicles. Therefore, a CWFL holder, when carrying under the terms of his license pursuant to FS 790.06, can legally carry a firearm in a vehicle about his person, so long as it is concealed from the sight of an ordinary person. Therefore Brad Diligaf’s assessment is correct.

    However, any non-prohibited person 18 or older may carry a handgun in a vehicle so long as it is either securely encased (defined in FS 790.001(17)) or not readily accessible for immediate use (defined in FS 790.001(16)). These provisions do not apply to long guns, which may be carried anywhere in a vehicle for lawful purposes.

    Case law has shown the courts place more emphasis on the firearm being not readily accessible than securely encased. In one case, a conviction was reversed by the appellate court because although the firearm was not securely encased (it was stuck between the driver’s seat and the center console), it was unloaded with the magazine in the closed glove compartment. The court ruled the firearm was not readily accessible for immediate use.

    http://www.floridacarry.org

  13. Great way to educate people. As long as we keep level headed and have the law on our side we’ll be ok. I’m still working up the courage to open carry here in Nevada. I concealed carry every day but I’m not sure that I would have handled that guy in the same manner as you did. I think it would be worse for our cause. I admire your courage and level headedness. Keep up the good work.

  14. Open carry fishing makes sense to me. I go fly fishing deep in the mountains of Virginia and I always see a few druggies. Nine times out of ten they are fine but the drug dealers are a different breed. I once came across two guys who acted very paranoid and kept watching my activities from a distance. Later I saw to two guys on the news and read that they had murdered a guy and stuffed his body in a drain only a hundred yards from where I was fishing. I think I will carry a Springfield XDS the next time the urge to catch trout hits me.

  15. So far I understand the plain site and in the vehicle being contained or concealed. In northwest Florida we are in a very rural area if you don’t hug the coast. We love our trail riding and river swimming. There’s a pleanty of alligators, cottonmouths and rattlesnakes. We are not hunting, camping or fishing. So what rule if any in these situations? On horseback I carry a pistol on my hip. No loose fitting shirt to cover or to hang on branches or scare the horse. Swimming in the river branch there is always a weapon handy and visible for any deadly animal or stranger heading for family and children that “just happens” to pop out of the woods.

    • The only exceptions to FS 790.053, the FL prohibition on open carry, are found in FS 790.25(3). Since riding is not one of the excepted activities, it would be illegal to open carry while doing so, unless one simultaneously fell under one of the other exceptions (i.e., while at one’s home or place of business).

  16. It would be nice if Florida followed suit with many other states and allow open carry. I was trained in Emergency Management in Jackson County and we were allowed to open carry only if we were performing training exercises or on official duty. I inquired to one of my trainers during a land grid SAR exercise how he could open carry in Florida and was informed it was allowable. He did shoot a snake with it later that day LOL.

  17. I have heard so many arguments as to police saying that the public should be restricted or forbidden to exercise their second amendment rights. Where are the cops when you need them? They are no longer “protect and serve” they are now “investigate and prosecute”…as in officers of the court. Has anyone bothered to tell the bad guys that carrying a firearm is an archaic and barbaric exercise of a constitutional right? THEY DIDN’T GET THE MEMO! I will give up my right to own and bear if the anti-gunners will give up their right to speak. As my daddy said “Better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6!

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