Bob Buckhorn slams Legislature for pushing Open Carry legislation


Wading into the debate in Tallahassee, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is slamming state lawmakers advocating that the state allow nearly 1.5 million Floridians with concealed carry permits to openly carry their firearms, rather than having to keep them hidden.

“This bill is totally unnecessary,” Buckhorn declared at a news conference held at Tampa Police headquarters, where he was joined by police Chief Eric Ward, Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober and Florida League of Women Voters board member Patricia Brigham, who all spoke in opposition to the proposed legislation.

“It’s more symptomatic of a Legislature that cares more about situations like this and the needs and the concrns of the NRA,  and a whole lot less about the needs and concerns of everyday Floridians,” the mayor said. But he wasn’t done trashing on the Legislature.

“They need to get focused on growing this economy, on appropriately spending the Amendment 1 dollars, on finding ways to expand Medicaid and not kowtowing to the National Rifle Association on a bill that is totally unnecessary,” he added for good measure.

The so-called “open carry” legislation is being sponsored in the Florida House by Fort Walton Beach Republican Matt Gaetz (HB 163) and in the Senate by his father, Niceville Republican Don Gaetz (SB 300).

“Having … open carry in the city of Tampa in my opinion is a bad idea,” Ward said. “I believe that open carry will result in fear and confusion for officers.”

Although the Florida Sheriffs Association has come out in opposition to the bill, the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) is working with the bill sponsors on amendments that, if passed, would allow them to support the controversial legislation.

“Recognizing the momentum these bills have gained, we have worked with the bill sponsors at length,” says Winter Park Police Chief Brett Railey, president of the FPCA. Among the amendments that they are pushing for would be for citizens to be required to use a poster, case or bag that is at least partially visible.

The fact that the bill fails to include such a provision right now is why it’s worse than the many other states (45 in all) who do allow for the open carrying of firearms,” said Brigham. “A permit holder can carry his or her firearm in their hand, in the pocket of their pants, or waistband. We ask you: Does that make us all safer?”

PolitiFact has reported that 15 of those 45 states require a permit or license to open carry, while eight more have other restrictions on how, when or where a gun owner is allowed to do so. And some municipalities restrict open carry in ways their state doesn’t.

Brigham also assailed Florida law that preempts cities like Tampa from enacting their own gun control ordinances, a law that Buckhorn says needs to go.

“It’s a very different environment in the urban areas than it is in the rural areas, and I think for a special interest group to dictate to local jurisdictions what they can and cannot do, I think is just wrong,” he said, referring to the NRA’s clout in Tallahassee.

The other major gun bill that the League of Women Voters had been crusading against this year: the so-called “campus carry” bill that would have allowed for the carrying of firearms on state college campuses and universities by people 21 years of age and older, appears to be DOA this session. Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla said it’s unlikely the campus-carry bill (SB 68) will be taken up by his powerful committee.

“As each day goes by, there’s less of a probability,” the Miami Republican said. “I don’t think we’ll be hearing campus carry this session.”

Buckhorn has been outspoken about the issue. In addition to Monday’s press conference,  he fired off an op-ed  in the Tampa Bay Times this weekend as well in decrying the proposed legislation.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected]


  • Pernell Rodocker

    January 26, 2016 at 6:53 am

    I am the public. I want open carry.

  • Herve

    January 26, 2016 at 11:42 am

    They need to stop arrested people when gun visible by accident

  • Me

    January 26, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Cops will be nervous? I am more qualified to carry a weapon than most of them. Get serious Bob; another self serving, know it all politician.

  • demasys

    January 26, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    ummm more public people here that want Open Carry. Bunch of over emotional out of control people crying false facts. OC saves lives, FACT. lets look at facts, How about state differences in strict gun control Vs 2nd Amendment States. notice the higher RAPE, Murder, B&E, burglery. if not you are not actually researching rather screaming and crying emotional out of control behavior.

  • Rich

    January 26, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    I am a Floridian and I want to open carry.

  • Alex

    January 27, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Despite the misinformation peddled to the press, these are the facts:

    1. This bill only applies to handguns. Nothing in this bill would authorize the open carry of long guns – rifles or shotguns.

    2. Nothing in this bill in any way impacts the private property rights of others – not of businesses and not of private individuals.

    3. Only a person with a license to carry concealed may choose to carry openly.

    4. The same restrictions that apply to carrying concealed will also apply to open carry. [ s.790.06 ]

    5. No person may carry a firearm around in the hand or exhibit it in a rude careless, angry, or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense. To do so violates existing law. [ s.790.10 ]

    6. A license holder is required — by existing law — to show the license to any law enforcement officer who wants to see it — that’s in the original law passed in 1987. [ s.790.06 (1) ]

    7. Businesses have the right to deny entry, refuse service, and/or evict anyone they wish — unless it’s done on the basis of race, gender, or religion. It is common to see signs that say, “No shoes, no shirt, no service.” Businesses should not be reluctant to post signs saying , “No open carrying of firearms.”
    It’s THEIR right.

    8. Seventy percent (70%) of the American public live in open carry states from all regions of the country. Many of the 45 open carry states have large and diverse cities just like Florida. No matter where you live geographically, whether it’s Trilby, Fla. or Fanning Springs, Fla., you have the same constitutional rights as citizens who live in Miami, Tampa, or Orlando.

    9. Forty-five (45) states allow open carry of firearms.

    15 of 45 open carry states require a license to carry concealed or openly.
    30 of 45 open carry states DO NOT require any license to carry openly
    0 of 15 carry license states require additional training to carry openly
    0 of 45 states offer a separate “open carry” license
    2 of 45 states require a holster to open carry.
    0 of 45 states require a special retention holster.
    5 of 15 are “may-issue” states where law enforcement issues licenses
    15 of 15 states require the license holder to produce the license on lawful demand by a law enforcement officer.

    10. Florida is 1 of 5 states that DO NOT allow Open Carry. The others are California, Illinois, New York and South Carolina. It’s time for Florida to be in better company.

    Allowing concealed carry license holders to also carry openly is THE ONLY WAY to stop abuse by law enforcement officers. License holders continue to be arrested and prosecuted for violation of the law banning open carry when their concealed firearms are accidentally, unintentionally and briefly exposed to the ordinary sign of another person.

    Despite efforts in 2011 to stop this abuse continues and it has to stop.

Comments are closed.


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