New Open Carry Questions to Arise in Florida Appellate Court

The recent court hearing between State v. Norman has gotten the attention of the Florida Supreme Court as the high court has denied a motion by the State Attorney to prohibit an appeal of Dale Norman. The Norman case involves the Fort Pierce, FL resident who had the police called on him after a concerned citizen saw his holster visible due to Norman’s sagging pants. Norman, who had just received his concealed carry permit days before the incident, claimed he was unaware that the weight of his pistol was causing his shorts to sag and made his holster visible to the public.

Norman was convicted of violating Florida’s Open Carry Ban and was found guilty. The Florida Statute states:

Except as otherwise provided by law and in subsection (2), it is unlawful for any person to openly carry on or about his or her person any firearm or electric weapon or device. It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s. 790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.

As Norman was a concealed carry permit holder Judge Cliff Barnes of the St. Lucie County Court found three questions of great importance in reference to interpreting the somewhat vague Florida statute mentioned above. Judge Barnes certified the following questions to be addressed by the appellate court:

  1. Is Florida’s statutory scheme related to the open carry of firearms constitutional?
  2. Do the exceptions to the prohibition against open carry constitute affirmative defenses to a prosecution for a charge of open carry or does the State need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular defendant is not conducting him/herself in the manner allowed?
  3. Does the recent “brief and open” display exception unconstitutionally infect the Open Carry Law by its vagueness?

The Fourth District of Appeals agreed to consider the questions supplied by Judge Barnes which resulted in a filing by the State of a Writ of Prohibition with the Florida Supreme Court in an attempt to deny the consideration of the questions. This writ contented that the appellate court was exceeding its authority and the Florida Supreme Court denied the State’s Writ of Prohibition meaning that the Fourth District of Appeals will consider these constitutional issues that are of upmost importance to the million strong firearms carry population of Florida.

The Initial Brief on the Merits of the case was filed April 22nd, 2013. The State will have 20 days to file and Answer Brief.

What do you feel about the Florida Statute and the three questions to be addressed by the appellate court?

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