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Taking Another Shot At Open Carry, Gun Group Heads To Court

Gun rights advocates say they could gain more from a pending Florida Supreme Court case than controversial open-carry legislation that failed this year.

Justices have set oral arguments for June 8 in a case called Norman vs the State of Florida. In it, a Fort Pierce man is challenging his 2012 misdemeanor conviction for openly carrying his handgun.

If the court strikes down Florida’s open-carry ban, then any law abiding citizen could openly carry a gun, says Florida Carry attorney Eric Friday.  The open-carry proposals that stalled this year in the Legislature only benefitted concealed weapons permit holders.

“We could potentially get in Norman even more than the Legislature was willing to give us.”

Whether a liberal-leaning court will allow that to happen remains to be seen.

Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Comras argues the most recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions allow reasonable restrictions on the Second Amendment.

“It is not the right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever for whatever purpose…”

Comras told the Fourth District Court of Appeal that keeping guns out of sight is more calming for the public.    

“They are lethal by nature and they are lethal for great distances, so obviously they instill fear in people.”

Friday’s client, Dale Norman, was thrown to the ground and handcuffed in 2012 after a bystander spotted his gun and called police. Norman had a concealed weapons permit and a clean record, Friday says.

A jury found Norman guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor and he was ordered to pay a fine, Friday says.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.