Palm Beach police chief defends push to change open carry law

Palm Beach police chief defends push to change open carry law
The Police Chief for the Town of Palm Beach says he's not backing down despite push back from gun advocates on his efforts to add restrictions to a current law that allows people to open carry while fishing, hunting, or camping or heading to or from those activities. (Source: WTVJ)

PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Police Chief for the Town of Palm Beach says he's not backing down despite push back from gun advocates on his efforts to add restrictions to a current law that allows people to open carry while fishing, hunting, or camping or heading to or from those activities.

At a Public Safety meeting, Chief Nicholas Caristo addressed the concerns of members of Florida Carry, Inc. an organization that advocates for gun rights.

Florida Carry members are fired up about Caristo's social media push to have local citizens call their lawmakers in support of the proposed bill.

"All of you officials that have taken an oath, you are failing at your oath and you should be fired," said Michael Taylor, a Port St. Lucie resident and member of Florida Carry, Inc.

Taylor has been part of open carry demonstrations on the Royal Park Bridge in Palm Beach where several gun owners have gathered to fish and under a state, open carry law is able to do it legally displaying their rifles and handguns.

"Big, several weapons on the person's body, when they are obviously not law enforcement, is jarring," said Wynna Dunmyer, a member of Moms Demand Action.

Dunmyer said she was glad her kids weren't with her when she saw the demonstration.

"It makes no sense and it's irresponsible to do things like that," said Caristo.

Caristo said in the Public Safety meeting that the open carry demonstrations cause fear especially when the yare so close to schools and churches.

"When you come to the Town of Palm Beach you walk by a public school with your AR-15 out and you have a fishing pole over your shoulder, there's kids playing in the playground," said Caristo to Taylor during the public meeting.

The chief referenced a recent incident where Taylor parked some distance away from his fishing spot and had an encounter with a Lantana officer while carrying his guns and fishing pole.

"As soon as I pulled into the parking lot where I was going to fish, he came out, drew his gun and pointed it at me," said Taylor.

Taylor and other Florida Carry members say any effort to restrict the open carry law is an infringement on their rights.

"When they want to extend 1,500 feet, there's government buildings there, a school almost on every corner of every street in the state of Florida, so how do I get from my place where I stop to go fishing?" said Taylor.

Florida Carry members say they are already planning a demonstration at the Royal Park Bridge on Jan. 4, 2020. Caristo said he will continue working with lawmakers and ask citizens to support the bill until it's passed and becomes law.

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