Thursday March 27th 2014, the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) openly testified against Second Amendment rights to the Florida House Judiciary Committee saying, "In our opinion, there is a difference between owning a firearm and carrying one concealed on your person. Owing a firearm is a right; carrying it concealed is a privilege; and it is a privilege that is earned..."
In what can only be viewed as contempt and distrust for law-abiding gun owners, the Florida Sheriffs Association went on to say that during an emergency you are "least likely to use a firearm in a safe and responsible manner". Think about that. The Sheriffs are telling your legislature that when you are under attack by looters and rioters, you should be disarmed because you will be the irrational person in the situation.
The Florida Sheriff's Association also told the committee that "there is plenty of time before hurricane season starts to go out and get a concealed weapons permit so you can carry on your person." This is completely false. Hurricane Season starts June 1st, only 62 days from now. Even if you already have your training certificate, your fingerprinting done, and have the $112.00 in fees ready to spend today, appointments at the regional offices are booked up to six months out and applications by mail are currently taking more than 90 days.
In other words, FSA is saying your Second Amendment right to BEAR arms can only be exercised if you have the time and money to get a license to carry a concealed handgun.
The Sheriffs go on to claim that "Given modern technology, the approach of storms can be predicted days in advance; and the last second flight scenarios are just not realistic." Anyone who has tracked approaching hurricanes knows this to be false.
A similar law to the one that we are trying to fix was struck down in North Carolina in 2012. The federal court there said:
"[T]he statutes here excessively intrude upon plaintiffs' Second Amendment rights by effectively banning them (and the public at large) from engaging in conduct that is at the very core of the Second Amendment at a time when the need for self-defense may be at its very greatest." Bateman v. Perdue, No. 5:10-CV-265-H, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47336, (E.D.N.C. Mar. 29, 2012)
The bill that the FSA opposes, HB 209, would create an exception to the automatic ban on firearms possession in public (even with a concealed carry license) for people who are complying with a mandatory evacuation order.
This is the unconstitutional law that the FSA is trying to protect:
870.044 Automatic emergency measures.—Whenever the public official declares that a state of emergency exists, pursuant to s. 870.043, the following acts shall be prohibited during the period of said emergency throughout the jurisdiction:
(1) The sale of, or offer to sell, with or without consideration, any ammunition or gun or other firearm of any size or description.
(2) The intentional display, after the emergency is declared, by or in any store or shop of any ammunition or gun or other firearm of any size or description.
(3) The intentional possession in a public place of a firearm by any person, except a duly authorized law enforcement official or person in military service acting in the official performance of her or his duty.
In 1987 the Florida Sheriffs Association also opposed concealed carry, saying at the time that citizens should be forced to carry firearms openly so they would be able see who has guns. Once concealed carry passed, they turned around and pushed for the ban on open carry -- which was legal until 1987. In 2011 the FSA opposed a bill that would have restored the open carry of handguns.
The fact is that the Florida Sheriff's Association has opposed every right to bear arms bill that has ever been offered.
While the FSA may have some sympathy for people's the Right to Keep Arms at home, it is obvious that the group has disdain for the Right to Bear Arms for self-defense. At the same committee hearing, Assistant Adjutant General for the Florida Army National Guard Maj. General Don Tyre spoke in support of the bill that will allow law abiding Floridians to take their guns with them during a mandatory evacuation order without the need for a concealed carry license.
We call on you to contact your local Sheriff and ask if the Florida Sheriff's Association is representing their values. Is lobbying against the right to bear arms during an emergency how they are honoring the oath that your Sheriff swore to defend the constitution? Does your Sheriff really support the Right to Bear Arms?
It is time for Florida's Constitutional Sheriffs to take control of the FSA or quit supporting it with your tax dollars.
We need your help to continue the fight for your right to bear arms. Please Join Florida Carry today.