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.

“Are Concealed Firearms License holders more law abiding than the police? The answer might surprise you!”

From a 35+ year LEO and LEO trainer.

I want to take a few minutes to ask you, you the liberal, anti-firearm, anti-citizen self-defense, pro law enforcement people out there “do you trust law enforcement to protect you and your family from most threats?” I hope the answer would be yes. The vast majority of law enforcement officers are average Joe’s or Jane’s who have a family to support and are just trying to make it by doing what they feel is a job that is worth doing. Making everyone around them feel safer, be safer and if in the process they can
remove threats to society as a whole and lock them up, that’s a plus. Cops are for the most part really good intention-ed people. Yes, we have our bad apples, just like most professions.


Unlike some professions, people do not realize that when a cop misbehaves they can be punished more than the average citizen most of the time. Cops who do wrong on purpose are even fewer, but when caught they can be punished by their department, by the courts, and fined civilly in court also, losing their job is not unheard of either. All one has to do is look in the news for examples of cops that have done something wrong and been arrested or punished. In Florida we have the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission that governs all police officers in Florida at all levels. If a cop screws up in Florida they can have to “go before the board” and they can get anything from not guilty and no punishment to losing their police license for life. We try to do a good job of policing our own, and we like
to think we do a fairly good job of it.

But just how many cops really screw up and get in this kind of trouble? There were roughly 550 officers in Florida that were disciplined for some kind of offense in 2015. (FDLE/CJSTC Officer Discipline Report). So even with that many I still think that the men and women in law enforcement as a whole are good people and I when I call 911 I want one of the m to respond. So what does this have to do with anything? What could this possibly have to do with Concealed Weapons License holders or self-defense? Well, you see many of the arguments that you hear that oppose things like Campus Carry and Open Carry are that there will be all kinds of people waving guns all over the place. People will be getting in shoot outs left and right and God forbid we pass Campus Carry, all of our drunken “children” in college
will be shooting it up at frat parties! I have to laugh when I hear people say how all these problems and others will happen. What they fail to do is realize that the citizens that have gotten a concealed carry permit are even more law abiding than the police officers they call for help. In fact, not just more law abiding, but by a FACTOR OF 6 TIMES MORE LAW ABIDING! What? You mean that concealed firearms license holders are more law abiding than our cops? The simple answer is yes, by far. After reading the
above information on our police officers and their discipline, we looked at the number of officers that were disciplined for committing a crime that would result in their certification as a police officer being revoked verse concealed carry firearms license holders and how many of those have had their CWL taken away because they committed a crime. And what we found was very surprising. CWL holders are 6 times LESS LIKELY to commit a serious crime than the police officers you trust with your families’ safety
and even your life if need be!

So why are so many of the anti-gun types so fearful of those that carry firearms lawfully? When those that do so are even ore law abiding than the police officers they trust their lives and the lives of their family members to? It’s because they do not look at the entire set of facts before making a decision on something. I would be willing to bet that CWL holders are one of THE MOST law abiding demographics in the country. Here is a group of people that have gone through background checks, spent money, been fingerprinted, sworn that they do not abuse drugs or alcohol among some things. How many of your friends that are not CWL holders can you claim you know their back grounds are clean?

I find it seriously flawed logic and thinking when a business owner posts a sign on the front of their business saying that they do not want lawfully carrying and licensed firearms owners in their stores. First any of their customers with a CWL have been screened as mentioned above, what can they say about their other customers? In addition, the business owner is announcing to the criminal world that the chances of one of the customers in the store being armed and able to fight back is slim. Better for the
criminals don’t you think? Might as well post a sign that says, “Criminals Welcome, no one here will fight back or shoot at you, so feel free to rob us!” Instead some businesses have gotten smart and posted pro CWL signs, even going to the point of offering discounts to CWL holders to attract more of them. Why? Well one it shows solidarity with the segment of people that believe in your rights, but even more important, it’s a warning to the criminal element that “Our customers may be armed, it even a good
chance they are, and if you try to rob us, you may very well be shot!”


I know which store I am going to spend my money in. And maybe if the business owner thought it out a little more, they might not be so quick to alienate the 2.0 MILLION CWL holders in Florida (as of Dec 2019)!

City of Ferguson Caves, Agrees to Pay Settlement to Parents of Michael Brown Despite Lawful Police Shooting

Only in today’s lefty courts of America can an attempted murderer’s parents profit from their adult son’s criminal actions and death.

I have seen and heard many things in my three decades as a cop, plus my military time. However, I recently heard that Michael Brown’s parents settled a lawsuit against the city of Ferguson for their son’s death.

These are the same parents of an 18-year-old adult who attacked and arguably tried to seriously injure or kill a police officer. The police officer was cleared in the shooting, as it was ruled justified. Yet even though justified and found lawful, the officer had to quit and move out of town for the safety of his own family. These are the same parents who, after the shooting incited violence, said, “Let’s burn this m——- down.”

Read the rest here.

It Takes a Good Guy With a Gun to Stop a Bad Guy With a Gun

“Law enforcement is reactionary by its very nature — remember, they come when you call, but you have to be able to call them.”

As news unfolded last week in this country, many things got splashed across our television screens and repeated over and over again. If the story is one of death or terror, it usually gets plenty of airtime and lots of print. A perfect example is the very newsworthy shooting at the Republican softball practice. A lunatic, left wing fringe ‘wanna-be killer’ tried to target unarmed and defenseless Congress members. It got the press time it deserved.

The attempted murder of our Congress members was stopped by two armed plain clothes police officers assigned as dignitary protection to one of the present members. Even after being wounded, they continued to engage the gunman. They were both transported to the hospital, and the gunman later died from his injuries. The other present members of Congress were fortunate the police officers had been assigned as protection.

Read the rest here.

Florida Officers are NOT Taught Firearms Law in the Police Academy.

I can only speak for my state, Florida, but I have found something that is very eye opening and needs to be addressed by the State of Florida.

I found that in the Basic Law Enforcement Officers Training Curriculum there is no mention anywhere of the laws and procedures relating to firearms and Concealed Carry License holders and laws, and it is vital that it be addressed immediately as it could result in the serious consequences for both my fellow law enforcement officers, and the law abiding citizens of Florida!

I have been teaching and training law enforcement and corrections officers in Florida for more than 34 years. I currently am the Law Enforcement/ Corrections Training Coordinator at Santa Fe College, Institute of Public Safety in Gainesville, and have been there for going on 20 years now. I have been very active in the past in writing and developing the FDLE/CJSTC Curriculum that we use to teach in our basic courses, acting as an SME (Subject Matter Expert) for FDLE on several subjects.

As part of my duties as coordinator, it is important that I review the current curriculums and make sure that we are teaching all of the needed information to make our officers/ deputies the very best informed and trained LEO’s we can. In addition, the more knowledgeable our LEO’s are the better they are equipped to handle situations that arise during their careers, and also helps to keep them from being liable for any misdeeds due to the lack of knowledge or training. It was while reviewing last years and this year’s Basic LEO curriculum that I found a serious omission in the text and materials.

I am sure that if I asked you how much time we spend on the firearms laws in the State of Florida in the Basic Academy you would probably say at least several hours, right? I mean with over 1.7 million concealed weapons license holders, you would think that we would address these laws and the proper way of dealing with this group of law abiding citizens correct? Well, we do not. There is actually 0 (zero) time or lessons dedicated to the instruction of the Firearms laws in the state of Florida. Even though Officers are expected to know and deal with these laws almost on a daily basis. In fact, we do not cover the laws concerning the CWL holders of Florida and what is legal and what is not as it pertains to citizens possessing firearms.

There are even only a few very brief, very short mentions of the Florida Chapter 790 in the entire training text. One of which simply mentions that it is one of the warrantless arrest exceptions for “Carrying a Firearm in Violation of an Injunction (s. 790.233, F.S.)” and “Carrying a Concealed Weapon (s. 790.02, F.S.)”[1] in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 mentions it as one of the crimes in Chapter 2, Unit 3, Lesson 2, Elements of crimes where it covers “carrying a Concealed Weapon (without a license), s. 790.01, Misdemeanor/ Felony”[2]. That is it! That is the entire law enforcement curriculum on dealing with firearms laws.

It is understood that we cannot cover every law and every situation in the Basic Law Enforcement Academies. I know this better than most people. But I also know that with the increase in Concealed Weapons License’s in the State of Florida (now over 1.7 million!) officers are encountering the law abiding citizen that is legally armed more and more. And with several current cases and lawsuits against officers and departments for unlawful arrests[3], or otherwise unknowingly violating a law-abiding, licensed citizens’ rights and getting complaints filed against them, we need to do something to better protect our officers, departments and the law abiding citizens of Florida.

I first discovered this lack of information when working on an in-service training curriculum with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Training Unit. They were getting complaints about officers disarming CWL holders during routine traffic stops and were investigating the legality of this issue and trying to better educate their Deputies. I assisted with the curriculum due to my involvement in this subject matter for a number of years.  We developed and used a very good curriculum and taught their deputies during in-service about the current state laws concerning the carrying of firearms by citizens. Both lawful and unlawful, and the training was well received.

The major issue at hand is the practice of officers “disarming” lawfully carrying citizens on the side of the street without any further reason than they are armed. Any handling of a firearm (which the LEO may not be familiar with) on the side of the road or elsewhere is potentially dangerous. It has been discussed and there is case law to support the view that officers, while being able to use Stop and Frisk (F.S.S. 901.151) when someone is under investigation for a criminal act, and when finding that the person may be armed AND is a danger to the officer, the officer may frisk for weapons, it does not cover frisking or disarming a law abiding citizen, who is not breaking any laws other than a possible civil infraction of traffic law. Officers can and do ask motorist and passengers if they are armed, and rightly can do so. But by Florida law it is not covered that they can then, upon learning they are a licensed, lawfully carrying citizen, disarm that person and deprive them of their property. In fact, the courts have held otherwise. In fact case law states that it is not permitted.[4] In fact, Florida law does not require a citizen to notify an officer they are lawfully armed unless the officer directly asks the person if they are armed (790.06).

In order to prevent citizen complaints and lawsuits for violation of citizens’ rights, do away with the unnecessary handling of firearms on the side of the street, and to increase the trust of the citizens with our police officers statewide (which is vital right now considering current events) I respectfully request that the CJSTC consider adding a lesson on Chapter 790, Firearms Laws and include as part of that, “Law Enforcement interactions with Concealed Weapons License Holders”.

This training is vital to our current situation and may help prevent unnecessary litigation and even possible injury or worse happening to one of our LEO’s or a law abiding citizen. And it is important to remind everyone involved that there are multiple cases now of lawfully armed citizens saving the lives of Police Officers across the nation! Lawful gun owners are not the problem or the enemy!

 

Refs:

1 Florida Basic Recruit Training Program, Text Book 1, Version 2016.07, Page 52 & 53.

2 Florida Basic Recruit Training Program, Text Book 1, Version 2016.07, Page 74.

3 Freeman & Florida Carry v. City of Tampa, et al./ Norman vs. State of Florida (currently under review by the Florida Supreme Court) / Florida Carry v. City of Daytona Beach

4 741 So.2d 1268 (1999), Bruce WELCH, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee. No. 98-2615. District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District.

[1] Florida Basic Recruit Training Program, Text Book 1, Version 2016.07, Page 52 & 53.

[2] Florida Basic Recruit Training Program, Text Book 1, Version 2016.07, Page 74.

[3] Freeman & Florida Carry v. City of Tampa, et al./ Norman vs. State of Florida (currently under review by the Florida Supreme Court) / Florida Carry v. City of Daytona Beach

[4] 741 So.2d 1268 (1999), Bruce WELCH, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, Appellee. No. 98-2615. District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District.

 

Anti-Gun Activists are Using Gun Phobia, the Education System and the Liberal Media to Slowly Take Away Second Amendment Rights!

By Joshua Gant, Opslens contributer, and LEO!

“The concept that you can stop crime by increasing gun legislation is so off base that it is dangerous to the safety and security of each and every citizen of the United States.”

As I sit back and watch headline after headline tick across my screen, it’s disgusting to me to witness the assault being waged on our right to keep and bear arms. For the people who seem to have forgotten, those rights are guaranteed by a document that liberals like to side step from time to time called the Constitution of the United States.

Read the rest here.

What’s With All the Police Brutality?

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By Chris Wagoner:

The protesting of police shootings and police brutality has sky rocketed this year. I see news reports with groups wanting “justice for Freddie” or for the latest person shot by police. If you listen to the media, all they seem to focus on is police violence. You see so much news these days about police accused of, and sometimes even arrested for, various crimes resulting from acts of violence. Now, first let’s make something very clear, I am not saying that the police do not commit crimes, or that they do not commit police brutality. Let’s get that out of the way. I am sure they happen. But it is my contention that they are not an “epidemic” or a nationwide problem.

I say this because in 2012 there were about 313,910,000 citizens in the United States and 670,439 police officers. That meant there were about two police officers for every 1000 citizens. Sworn officers made up about .22% of the US population. During any given year officers come in contact with about 16.9% of the US population, with about 3.89% of those contacts resulting in arrests for something. Think about this… 670,439 cops made contact with more than 53, 050,790 citizens! Now this is for any reason from traffic stops to making reports, traffic accidents, anything. Of all the millions of contacts citizens had with police, only 26,000 complaints of excessive violence were made against police. Of those 26,000 complaints, only 2,080 were found to be sustained, meaning they were true or had some substance to them, or 0.0039% of all police contact resulted in a verified complaint regarding the use of excessive force.

Read the rest of the story here….