Gun Owners of America Senior Vice President Erich Pratt and Florida State Director Luis Valdes have called for amending 2023 Florida House Bill 543 (HB 543) to add the legalization of Open Carry of Firearms in the State of Florida.
Currently, Florida is one of the only few states in the country that does not allow for the legal Open Carry of firearms.
Both Pratt and Valdes testified in front of the Florida House’s Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee, requesting the Open Carry amendment to HB 543.
Valdes pointed out 47 States and two U.S. territories have Open Carry of Firearms, including the U.S. State of Hawaii, which has a Democrat super-majority trifecta government.
Valdes said “last I checked the people have the right to keep and bear arms, not the people have the right to keep and bear arms concealed only.”
Valdes said he supports HB 543 as is, though he would like to see an amendment for legalization of Open Carry added to the bill, “no more no less.”
Valdes said the bill without the legalization of Open Carry provision is Concealed Carry only, not Constitutional Carry, pointing out Governor DeSantis pledged to sign Constitutional Carry into law.
Pratt urged the Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee to add the provision for legalizing Open Carry and pass HB 543 after adding the provision to the bill.
Pratt said 25 States currently have Constitutional Carry and all of those States allow for the Open Carry of Firearms. He said the 5 safest states in the United States have full Constitutional Carry, which includes Open Carry of Firearms.
Pratt also said the States that have passed full Constitutional Carry Laws, have never had a legislative hearing to consider repealing their Constitutional Carry Laws.
Pratt said legalizing Open Carry in Florida would prevent accidental criminalization of a person conceal carrying because their shirt or jacket “rides up” accidentally exposing their concealed firearm.
Gun rights activists in Florida have been locked in a battle in the past few years to pass Constitutional Carry (with Open Carry) in the State of Florida, with various reasons contributing to the failure of passage of the bill each year.
Governor DeSantis has said multiple times in 2022 that he would sign a Constitutional Carry bill if it passed through the Florida State Legislature.
Gun Owners of America was founded in 1976 by California State Senator H.L. Richardson. Richardson served in the California State Senate from 1967 to 1988. Richardson was a Republican.
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