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A Brush With Ballistic As High Court Hears Open Carry

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A Fort Pierce gun owner’s Second Amendment challenge to the open carry ban stirred a sometimes heated exchange Wednesday in the Florida Supreme Court.

Liberal and conservative justices alike tried to get Assistant Attorney General Heidi Bettendorf to explain in detail why Florida bans open carry.

But Bettendorf’s vague responses frustrated even liberal-leaning Justice Barbara Pariente.

“I think you’ve got to be able to articulate more than, well, ‘the Legislature says so.’”

The case centers on Dale Norman’s 2012 second-degree misdemeanor conviction for openly carrying a holstered pistol. Florida Carry attorney Eric Friday argued the law violates his client’s Second Amendment rights.

But Chief Justice George Labarga interrupted Friday when the gun rights advocate tried to compare gun permits to licensing news cameras.

“This court would not stand for that type of restriction on the First Amendment or that type of prior restraint, or anticipatory disarmament…Yeah, but I don’t think journalists’ cameras kill people.”

Justices noted that lawmakers twice refused to repeal open carry. There’s no indication when the court will rule.

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.