Florida lawmakers need to legalize open carry | Commentary
By Erich Pratt
Florida’s Republican lawmakers have continuously campaigned on the claim that Florida is the “Gunshine State” and one of the freest states in the Union. Yet, under two decades of GOP leadership, our Legislature has failed to legalize the open carry of firearms, leaving us in the very small and very liberal company of only New York, Illinois, and California.
Since open carry was banned (at the urging of then-Dade County prosecutor Janet Reno), we haven’t seen a great reduction in crime. We can, however, analyze several incidents where honest citizens had their rights violated because of this policy.
Take a recent incident in Columbia County late last year, where James Hodges, who is legally blind, was reporting for jury duty. While walking to the courthouse, he was stopped, harassed and ultimately charged with obstruction without violence. His crime: carrying a folded seeing-eye cane for his visual impairment — but to the deputies on scene, the law-abiding citizen who was doing his civic duty appeared to be openly carrying a firearm.
More recently, in Volusia County, a father was openly carrying a firearm on his own property (the one situation where legal to do so) when his neighbor’s pit bull got loose. With his