Whether “keep and bear” arms means to openly carry or carry at all has been debated. However, it is a criminal offense to open carry in Florida. As with most things in the law, there are exceptions. For example, if a person is engaged in or going to or from hunting, fishing, camping or on a target range, that person can openly carry. These exceptions are affirmative defenses. There is also the obvious cop exception. Recently, an appellate court decided whether Florida’s prohibition on the open carrying of firearms was in violation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Of course, the Court held that the restriction on the manner of bearing arms was constitutional, legal and not excessively restrictive. This was mainly because Florida is required to issue concealed carry licenses unless a person is disqualified, a minor, or other limited exceptions. In that case, it also argued that the “brief and open display” exception in the concealed carry statute makes Florida law unconstitutionally vague.
Brief display is if a person who is legally carrying a concealed firearm, briefly and openly displays it. Think of this as the windblown shirt or bending over exception. This type of display is not illegal, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense, which is also known as improper exhibition. Improper exhibition and carrying a concealed weapon or firearm without a license are also criminal offenses. Because this person was engaged in open carry, the Court declined to address this issue.
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