TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Two landmark bills are under review in the Florida legislature. One bill would allow concealed carriers to temporarily store their handguns in the courthouse and the other would take away the penalties for permit holders when their handguns become visible.
According to the Sunshine State News, Florida state senators are currently reviewing SB 616 and SB 646. Senate Bill 616 is colloquially referred to as “courthouse carry” and Senate Bill 646 will keep permit holders from running into hot water when their handguns become temporarily visible.
Now SB 646 doesn’t make it so concealed carriers can brandish or otherwise menace or threaten another person by displaying a firearm. All SB 646 attempts to do is make it so if a Florida permit holder bends down to pick up a box and the pistol grip of his gun sticks out where other people can see it, law enforcement can’t penalize him.
Previously, if someone saw a pistol grip exposed or otherwise felt the permit holder was showing his concealed handgun, he could theoretically get law enforcement to penalize him. This law just makes sense. Nobody should freak out about seeing a pistol grip showing from a holster or an ankle pistol showing because someone bent down to tie a shoelace.
The other bill, SB 616, is the slightly more contentious of the two. Florida courthouses are prohibited areas for concealed carriers, at present. However, Florida understands the fears of law-abiding individuals who want to carry in and out of the building. Because Florida courthouses provide their own armed security, they can take temporary custody of a Florida permit holder’s handgun so he can enter the premises and conduct his business. When he gets ready to leave, they’ll hand the gun back and he can go about his day.
“The Legislature placed its trust and faith in the licensing system, and in the Florida citizens who choose to lawfully carry,” said Florida Carry. “Licensees have not only met, but far exceeded those expectations. It is well beyond time the Legislature recognizes that statistically documented fact, and relieves unnecessary burdens on the licensee.”
Both of these bills will probably be debated on the Senate floor but I think SB 646 just makes common sense. A concealed carrier who has demonstrated he can competently follow the law should not be penalized for temporary exposure of a firearm so long as he’s not purposefully attempting to menace another person.
If I’m in an autobody shop and my mechanic leans over to look at my engine and I see a gun sticking out from his waistband, that’s a non-issue. He’s very clearly not threatening anyone. If I see someone to bend down to tie his shoe and a gun is exposed, again, there’s no threat there.
The courthouse carry bill is also interesting for its own reasons. I think there will likely be some debate about the definition of custody. It’s completely likely that some concealed carrier will end up leaving a handgun with the court overnight because he just forgot he checked it in with the courthouse. There’s even a chance that the guy going into the courthouse is not legally able to take custody back for that firearm due to either pending charges related to assault or domestic abuse or some other related thing. The latter isn’t such a big deal but the definitions that the Florida legislature gives to these things will play out with concealed carriers coming from a variety of backgrounds.
Kudos for keeping the concealed carrier in mind. Let’s see how it plays out.