The Florida Supreme Court will hear Norman v. State, the case that challenges the constitutionality of Florida’s open carry ban. It may or may not be a coincidence that the court’s decision to hear the case was published a day after a bill to allow open carry passed the Florida House Criminal Justice sub-committee. On the legislative side, the bill passed the committee 8-4. From the sun-sentinel.com . . .
The state representative who filed the bill, Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, called the right to bear arms one “granted not by government but by God.”
The initial brief to the court was filed a week ago on November 25th, 2015. Here is the summation of the arguments from the INITIAL BRIEF – MERITS (PDF):
Florida’s ban on the open carrying of firearms, is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as Article I, Sec. 8 of the Florida Constitution, Declaration of Rights. The current ban was passed as an ill-conceived emergency measure, without committee hearings, public comment, or time for deliberations.
The Florida Constitution allows for regulation of the manner of bearing arms. From the Florida Constitution, Article I, Section 8:
(a) The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.
Prior to 1987, Florida allowed for unlicensed open carry, while highly restricting concealed carry. Janet Reno‘s lobbying created the open carry ban – in the same year that the legislature passed a “shall issue” concealed carry law.
The state has not submitted its reply to the initial brief on the merits. The local press has run some coverage of the issues. From tcpalm.com:
As for the Supreme Court case, Friday argued in the brief that the “Open Carry Ban severely restricts the right to bear arms.”
The brief goes on to cite similar state cases from Georgia and Tennessee, where open carry laws were found unconstitutional. It goes on to explain that laws governing concealed weapon permits are also unconstitutional, equating the right to carrying a gun as the same right that protects the publication of pornography.
“Mr. Norman’s arrest and prosecution were unconstitutional from beginning to end,” Friday wrote in the brief. “The gunpoint detention of Mr. Norman, a lawfully armed person, clearly shows that the current interpretation of firearms law is suspect and dangerous.”
While the case to throw-out the open carry ban is quite strong on its merits, we have seen judges who are quite willing to ignore logic and fact in order to reach the conclusions that they favor. It will likely take months for the court to reach a decision.
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.