Fort Pierce man's case could overturn Florida's 'open carry' ban, gun activists say

Fort Pierce man's case could overturn Florida's 'open carry' ban, gun activists say


FORT PIERCE, FL (WFLX) - A Treasure Coast man's legal fight could overturn a long-time Florida gun law. The future of Florida's ban on openly carrying a firearm depends on a decision from a judge in the 4th District Court of Appeal.

In February of 2012, Dale Lee Norman of Fort Pierce was walking down the sidewalk of a busy street. His firearm was completely exposed as shown in police dash-cam video. Norman's attorney, Eric Friday, says Norman had his concealed weapon permit but did not know his gun became accidentally exposed.

Norman was convicted of open carry of a firearm in a St. Lucie County Court. His Jacksonville attorney is with the independent group Florida Carry and took the case to the 4th District Court of Appeal. "The issue is when the Second Amendment says a right to bear arms, what does that mean? Every court that's looked at the issue has said that the concealed carry of arms is a privilege not a right," said Friday during a Skype interview.

Friday's argument is that 'open carry' is a right. Florida is currently one of five states that bans openly carrying firearms in U.S. "We have certain rights because we live in America and those rights aren't being honored right now here in Florida," said Bob Harvey, a local NRA instructor.

Harvey is one of many gun rights advocates who hopes Norman's case will overturn Florida's ban. "When you have to have a license or a permit to carry, is it really a right or a permission's slip? That's what this case is all about," added Harvey.

But others like Artie Williams, who co-created the Mothers Against Murderers Association, are against open carry. "When it comes to a point where it's visible, that's going to cause a problem," said Williams.

Williams started the organization when his 27-year-old nephew was shot and killed 11 years ago. "I think it gives the carrier an intimidation factor," added Williams.

There's no timeline on when the ruling of that case will be made. Florida does allow open carry on a very limited basis. You can under Florida law open carry your firearm if you are fishing, hunting or camping or on the way to or from.