What Does the Current State of Emergency mean for Gun Owners in Florida?

I have seen many posts in lots of different social media groups and threads in Florida about how the current State of Emergency order by the Governor has affected the owners of firearms and the ability to carry them legally.

There are RUMORS going around that the current SOE allows the open carrying of firearms. THIS IS NOT TRUE. While the listed exceptions in the Florida state Statutes still are applicable, nothing has changed in this regard. YOU CANNOT open carry a firearm in Florida Because of the State of Emergency order. What people may be misunderstanding with this one is that during a State of Emergency Evacuation order it is permitted to conceal carry a firearm on them during an evacuation:

790.01 Unlicensed carrying of concealed weapons or concealed firearms.—

(3) This section does not apply to: (a) A person who carries a concealed weapon, or a person who may lawfully possess a firearm and who carries a concealed firearm, on or about his or her person while in the act of evacuating during a mandatory evacuation order issued during a state of emergency declared by the Governor pursuant to chapter 252 or declared by a local authority pursuant to chapter 870. As used in this subsection, the term “in the act of evacuating” means the immediate and urgent movement of a person away from the evacuation zone within 48 hours after a mandatory evacuation is ordered. The 48 hours may be extended by an order issued by the Governor.

The next one I have seen is that the current SOE prohibits you from concealed carrying with CWFL or even without legally during one of the exceptions. Again THIS IS NOT TRUE. You can carry a firearm lawfully just like before, nothing has changed in this regard. You may still lawfully carry with a CWFL and also still possess a firearm in your vehicle according to the Florida Statues. (F.S.S. 790.25(5) for one.) So you can still carry according to the laws just like before this current crisis.

Some counties have closed gun stores under the guise of them being “non-essential”. That is an entirely different debate, and one I think you all know how I feel. But that is currently the ability they have. I would like to see after this is all over that firearms suppliers are exempt from these closures because the items they are selling are Constitutionally protected and unless the Constitution itself is suspended, these businesses stay open. But thats for a different time.

And as we have a lot of new gun owners because people went out and panic bought a firearm, many for the first time, please become very familiar with the current FLorida laws before you get yourself in a legal bind with the police or someone else. Get some training, follow the four cardinal rules of gun safety s you can safely have a firearm. Teach yourself these rules and follow them! Make everyone in your house follow them!

The Lack of Firearms Law Training is Hurting Both the Citizens of Florida and Law Enforcement.

The struggle to educate Florida’s law enforcement officers and agency heads continues and recent arrest/ events do not help with the public view of this topic!

On January 30th, 2020 my private message box started going off like crazy. This usually means one of my former students (now law enforcement officer) has a question about a particular firearms law. But not this evening.

The messages were to get me to review and respond to a Facebook post by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office about a firearms arrest they had made. Probably because many of my LEO friends knew that the circumstances described in the original post by HCSO were questionable at best and they wanted me to try and help out by clarifying the law for the HCSO. But a little background is needed first on Florida law enforcement academy training.

In the state of Florida, up until June of 2019, police recruits in Florida received no training in the police academy on Florida’s rather complicated and lengthy firearms laws. Yes you read that correctly, ZERO, none, nada, zilch training on what one would think are very important laws for both law enforcement and citizens alike. Now this does not mean that agencies did not do any in-service training (on going training that officers go through on a regular basis) on this topic. I know that my local agencies did some great training on this topic and trained every officer/deputy on the firearms laws in Florida. But sadly I cannot say this is the case for most of the larger departments.

I noticed this lack of training about 4 or 5 years ago in the curriculum being used and began to work with the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to try and get some material added to the curriculum so that all officers state wide would get at least some training on firearms laws. After several years of learning how slow this process is, this last June the CJSTC added a short lesson in the training text books and now every recruit in Florida is taught some information about the firearms laws in Florida. While I do not think it is in depth enough, I am happy they at least get some training in it now. But therein lies the problem. Officers who graduated before this addition happened did not get any training and it is beginning to show as more and more Floridians are carrying firearms for self protection. More than 2.1 MILLION people in Florida have Concealed Weapons and Firearms Licenses. That does not include those who carry firearms in their vehicles as allowed by Florida laws.

So back to the incident in Hillsborough County. From a description given by the HCSO itself:

On Thursday, January 30, at approximately 5:54 a.m. an HCSO deputy was driving onto I-75 from Fowler Avenue in Tampa. The deputy observed a white 2018 extended cab Ford F-150 pickup truck immediately behind the patrol car with high beam lights on and following too closely. The pickup truck crossed all lanes of traffic to get into the left lane of the highway and began speeding. The deputy looked over at the truck and could not see into the windows due to a very dark level five tint, which was later tested at the scene and found to be in violation.

The deputy pulled up behind the truck two separate times, both times flashing emergency lights, however, the driver did not stop or slow down. Instead, he continued to speed at a rate of 87 mph. When the driver ultimately decided to pull over, the deputy approached the pick up truck on the passenger side for safety due to traffic.

Stephen Michael Frisco (DOB 07/26/95) was in the sole occupant in the vehicle. The deputy did a visual sweep inside the pickup truck and noticed a rifle wedged between the passengers seat and the center console, rifle end down. The deputy asked Frisco for his driver’s license, where he was coming from and going to, if his rifle was real and if he had any other weapons in the truck.

Frisco told the deputy he was coming from a residence in Pasco County and headed to his place of employment in Bartow. He said the rifle was real and that he had several other weapons in the truck. Frisco said he does not have a concealed carry permit.

𝐅𝐑𝐈𝐒𝐂𝐎 𝐖𝐀𝐒 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐆𝐎𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐇𝐔𝐍𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆, 𝐖𝐇𝐈𝐂𝐇 𝐖𝐎𝐔𝐋𝐃 𝐇𝐀𝐕𝐄 𝐁𝐄𝐄𝐍 𝐇𝐈𝐒 𝐎𝐍𝐋𝐘 𝐋𝐄𝐆𝐀𝐋 𝐄𝐗𝐂𝐄𝐏𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍 𝐓𝐎 𝐇𝐀𝐕𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐇𝐈𝐒 𝐑𝐈𝐅𝐋𝐄 𝐎𝐔𝐓.

At this point, the deputy asked Frisco to exit the vehicle due to probable cause for an arrest. The deputy searched Frisco’s vehicle and found three loaded handguns — no cases and ready to use — in addition to loaded magazines beneath the center console. Additional loaded magazines were found in the glove box. In Florida, open carry is unlawful (2nd degree misdemeanor).

Frisco was arrested for Open Carrying of a Weapon and Carrying a Concealed Firearm (3 counts). He was also cited for failing to dim headlights 300 feet behind a vehicle and received only a warning for speeding and the tinted windows violation.

We want to reiterate that in 𝐍𝐎 𝐖𝐀𝐘 were Mr. Frisco’s rights violated. As a law enforcement agency, we just ask that anyone who chooses to exercise their rights to carry a firearm does so within the law.

http://bit.ly/37UcsJC

If you know Florida firearms law you may immediately see the issue with this incident. First in Florida is legal to have a long gun (rifle or shotgun) anywhere in the passenger compartment of your vehicle. F.S.S. 790.25(5) covers this:

(5) POSSESSION IN PRIVATE CONVEYANCE.—Notwithstanding subsection (2), it is lawful and is not a violation of s. 790.01 for a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm or other weapon for self-defense or other lawful purpose within the interior of a private conveyance, without a license, if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use. Nothing herein contained prohibits the carrying of a legal firearm other than a handgun anywhere in a private conveyance when such firearm is being carried for a lawful use. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to authorize the carrying of a concealed firearm or other weapon on the person. This subsection shall be liberally construed in favor of the lawful use, ownership, and possession of firearms and other weapons, including lawful self-defense as provided in s. 776.012.

This is legal under Florida law (F.S.S. 790.25(5), but not very secure.

So let’s break down the incident as described by the HCSO itself and I will attempt to explain the issues I see. First the stop itself was made for a traffic infraction, a civil issue and not a criminal one. The description then goes on to say that “The deputy did a visual sweep inside the pickup truck and noticed a rifle wedged between the passengers seat and the center console, rifle end down. The deputy asked Frisco for his driver’s license, where he was coming from and going to, if his rifle was real and if he had any other weapons in the truck.” It is important to note that at this point Mr. Frisco has not done anything criminal as far as the Deputies know since the carrying of the rifle in that manner is legal, AND they do not know if the handguns are being carried in a legal manner or not yet since they cannot see them. In Florida you may carry a handgun in your car if you have a CWFL or if you meet certain criteria under F.S.S. 790.25(5).

This is where things went wrong because of the lack of knowledge of the Florida firearms laws: “At this point, the deputy asked Frisco to exit the vehicle due to probable cause for an arrest. The deputy searched Frisco’s vehicle and found three loaded handguns — no cases and ready to use — in addition to loaded magazines beneath the center console. Additional loaded magazines were found in the glove box. In Florida, open carry is unlawful (2nd degree misdemeanor).” Now since the rifle was carried legally there actually was no probable cause (legal term meaning a strong reason to believe) to arrest Mr. Frisco at this point and the “search incident to arrest” is therefore improper. The handguns were located during the search incident to the arrest and the arrest was not proper. In addition there needs to be a little more clarification on where the handguns were located.

The description says they were located: “The deputy searched Frisco’s vehicle and found three loaded handguns — no cases and ready to use — in addition to loaded magazines beneath the center console.” What is “beneath the center console”? Do they mean inside? My center consoles on all of my vehicles have a lid and open and close. If the handguns were inside the center console, and the lid closed, the handguns were then being carried legally. The law in Florida makes it legal to carry a handgun in your vehicle without a concealed carry permit if you do one of two things:

“it is lawful and is not a violation of s. 790.01 for a person 18 years of age or older to possess a concealed firearm or other weapon for self-defense or other lawful purpose within the interior of a private conveyance, without a license, if the firearm or other weapon is securely encased or is otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use.”

http://bit.ly/2uPMFDI

One must then look at the definition of those two terms “securely encased” or “not readily accessible for immediate use”. Lucky for us those terms are defined in the laws. F.S.S. 790.001 (16) and (17) define these:

“(16) Readily accessible for immediate use” means that a firearm or other weapon is carried on the person or within such close proximity and in such a manner that it can be retrieved and used as easily and quickly as if carried on the person.” and

“(17) “Securely encased” means in a glove compartment, whether or not locked; snapped in a holster; in a gun case, whether or not locked; in a zippered gun case; or in a closed box or container which requires a lid or cover to be opened for access.”

This is where the description of where the handguns were found “under” and center console is not helpful. I can’t place anything under my center console, only inside it. If inside of it, it has a lid which requires opening and meets the definition for (17) above. So if the handguns were inside of the center console with the lid closed, they were legally being carried under Florida law. If that was the case then Mr. Frisco did not commit any violations of Florida’s firearms laws and the arrest was for charges that do not exist. I would like for HCSO to clarify where the handguns were located.

But where the handguns were may be a moot point in that of the Deputies removed Mr. Frisco from his vehicle based on arresting him for the rifle (which turned out not to be a crime at all) then the discovery of the handguns is tainted and not usable for charging him either. Additionally if the Deputies suspected Mr. Frisco of a crime (Specifically a firearms crime) and after knowing or thinking this they asked him questions about that crime, Miranda issues may also come into play. But that is another subject entirely.

I have offered to assist the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office with some free in-service training to help bring their deputies up to speed on the firerms laws. This is a sincere offer in that it helps to protect the deputies and citizens alike. It helps to prevent things like this from happening.

Training our law enforcement in Florida on firearms law is vital to community relations, officer safety, and most importantly citizens rights. This incident should never have happened and could have been prevented by a little education. I hope some deputy or officer somewhere reads this article and it prevents the next incident like this from happening. This is not the first of these types of incidents, but we can strive to make it the last.

While I may not agree with some of the current firearms laws, until they are changed through legislation, they are still the law and we should know them. Plus one minor point to all my LEO friends out there. You do have the discretion to not enforce misdemeanor violations. Sometimes when in doubt or you feel the law itself is not proper, discretion is the better choice.

FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE ALERT! ANTI-RIGHTS BILLS TO BE HEARD ON 01/28/2020 IN SENATE COMMITTEE! WE HAVE 2 DAYS TO ACT!

Well well…. Sen. Perry (who has now voted twice for anti-rights, anti-firearms bills) has more Anti-rights bills in his Criminal Justice Committee (he is the Chair) now! Wonder if they will all vote unanimously on these also?

On 01/28/2020 at 1:30pm the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice will hold a meeting:


MEETING DATE: Tuesday, January 28, 2020
TIME: 1:30—3:30 p.m.
PLACE: Mallory Horne Committee Room, 37 Senate Building


And on the agenda for that meeting to be heard and voted on are a couple of Anti-Firearms Bills! That means we have 2 days to let them know we do not support and do not want them to support these anti-rights/ waste of the TaxPayers Money bills!

The first is SB 652: Urban Core Gun Violence Task Force by Sen. Pizzo. This bill creates a task force at taxpayer expense to investigate:

“… system failures and the causes of high crime rates and gun violence incidents in urban core neighborhoods and communities. In addition, the task force shall develop recommendations for solutions, programs, services, and strategies for improved inter-agency communications between local and state government agencies which will help facilitate the reduction of crime and gun violence in urban core neighborhoods and communities.”

This Bill is full of problems and will do nothing to reduce violent crime or help ALL of Florida citizens be safer. Why do our legislators continue to try and divide us into groups? Why can’t they just focus on all of Florida’s citizens?

This bill will not help the vast majority of Floridians if anyone. How many “task forces” do we need to tell us that violence is not good and how to combat it?

The second Bill on the agenda of Sen. Perry’s Committee is one I wrote about before. CS/SB 728.

This bill makes it a crime to threaten to use a firearm to make a threat (that is already illegal and called Aggravated Assault, 784.021) or “future threat” whatever the heck that is, and makes it a felony of the Second Degree. Now I hope people see that if you already have something against the law, why are you making it part of another law? Why is this an issue at all other than to put just one more anti-firearms law on the book? The Bill did not have an exception for self-defense (that was added later by amendment) but now it does. Still, this is unnecessary and stupid to waste time on something that is already illegal.

What should be of concern is the term “future threat”, which does not get defined in the proposed law. What in the world does that even mean? Without definition that could be used in many ways if you think about it.

We need to write to ALL of the Committee members, of course including Sen. Perry and tell them to VOTE NO on SB 652 and CS/SB 728. We do not need more regulations, task forces or other waste of time and money. We need them to start focusing on real issues and the bigger picture. Mental Health screening and treatment. Early intervention for young violent offenders, harsher punishments for already existing violent crimes (and actually doing that), caring for our natural resources and so much more.

Here are links to the Senate Criminal Justice Committee members’ pages and emails. Please take the few minutes it requires to do this. If you stay silent you are part of the problem and why our rights are being eroded a little at a time. Do not remain silent, become a voice for your rights and those of all Florida Law Abiding citizens!
Committee on Criminal Justice

Members
Chair: Senator Keith Perry (R)
http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/S8
Vice-Chair: Senator Jeff Brandes (R)
http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/S24
Senator Randolph Bracy (D)
http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/S11
Senator Anitere Flores (R)
http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/S39
Senator Jason W. B. Pizzo (D)
http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/S38

Sen. Perry recently said he is pro-firearms rights and pro-second amendment. Ask him to prove it.

Florida Legislator Wants Punishment for Murder Reduced!

Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up! Talk about truth being stranger than fiction.

On October 17th, 2019 Florida Senator Bracy (D – Orange County) filed a bill that just defies logic or common sense. While most bills are designed to try and solve some issue or address a error in past laws, this one is unique!

Florida Senate Bill 564 – Murder

General Bill by Bracy. Murder“Revising the elements of murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree; revising the elements of what constitutes felony murder, for murder in the second degree; deleting provisions relating to felony murder, for murder in the third degree; authorizing persons convicted under certain murder provisions to file a petition with the sentencing court to have his or her murder conviction vacated or to be resentenced, as applicable, on or after a specified date, etc.”

You see, Sen. Bracy thinks that if we lower the punishment for certain “types” of murders it will help to reduce the “prison overcrowding” and more “fairly” address a person’s role in a murder. What? What part of a murder is not a serious crime?

This is what he wrote to justify the bill: “WHEREAS, there is a need for statutory changes to more equitably sentence offenders in accordance with their level of involvement in homicides, and WHEREAS, it is a bedrock principle of the law and of equity that a person should be punished for his or her actions according to his or her level of individual culpability, and WHEREAS, it is necessary to amend Florida’s felony murder rule to limit convictions and subsequent sentencing so that the laws of this state fairly address the culpability of the individual and assist in the reduction of prison overcrowding, which partially results from lengthy sentences that are not commensurate with the culpability of the individual…”

Sen. Bracy wants to reduce the level of punishment for some levels of murder, if you are involved in a violent felony like robbery or sexual battery and someone is killed. In what world does that make any type of sense? It does not seem to matter to Sen. Brady that the murder rate nationally has been going down over the last 20+ years or so. Facts and reality do not seem to matter to this Senator.

Murder rate down over many years.

You have to ask yourself why in the world would anyone want to do this? What motivation would one have for wanting to reduce prison time and the seriousness of murder charges? One can only guess.

We have had a decline in the Murder rate nationwide over the last couple of decades, and it’s not by making the punishment less for murder. Maybe the good Senator should look at making other laws have more serious punishments and making enforcement a priority? Like maybe raise the level of crime for using a firearm to commit a serious crime? How about mandatory time for using a firearm in a violent felony? Instead of trying to pass meaningless firearms control laws that will do nothing to reduce murders or crimes, make the use of a firearm in a crime even more punitive!

I am sorry but this legislation is one of the stupidest things I have seen in years. Want to read it for yourself go here: http://bit.ly/2W44OXH