A Florida gun group has filed an appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case dealing with how Florida regulates open carry for weapons and firearms.
On Monday, Florida Carry Inc. filed an appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dale Norman vs. Florida case, a case revolving around how Florida regulates concealed weapons permit holders and the accidental brandishing of firearms.
It all started in 2012 when Dale Norman was found guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor after his firearm accidentally became exposed outside of his house.
Norman was walking down the street in Fort Pierce carrying his handgun, which was not covered by his clothing. When a passerby saw the gun, the police were called and Norman was arrested.
A lower court found Norman guilty of violating the state’s open carry ban, even though Norman had a concealed weapons permit for his handgun.
The court slapped Norman with a $300 fine and court costs, but the legal challenges didn’t end there.
Norman alleged state lawmakers were wrong in banning open carry because it requires people looking to defend themselves to first get a concealed weapons permit if they ever want to protect themselves while outside the four walls of their homes.
The state, on the other hand, believes that if open carry were to be legal, legislators would have already passed a bill allowing it.
The Norman case weaved its way through the court system until it was ultimately heard by the Florida Supreme Court last year, which backed the state in the appeal.
Now, Florida Carry and Norman are taking the case all the way to the nation’s highest court, alleging Florida has erred in its 30-year open carry ban.
Florida Carry says the ban on open carry goes against the spirit of America, which typically tends to support the right to bear arms.
“Traditionally this Court and the State courts have viewed the right to bear arms as categorically protecting the carrying of firearms openly,” the group wrote. “Florida and the other four States that generally ban open carry are outliers in conflict with American traditions.”
The case gathered the support of pro-gun groups like the National Rifle Association, which quickly hopped onboard in supporting Norman and Florida Carry in the appeals process.
"Mr. Norman is a law-abiding citizen who has a concealed weapons license and was exercising his constitutional right," NRA lobbyist and past president Marion Hammer told Sunshine State News. "Mr. Norman is being treated like a criminal because his shirt came up and his firearm was accidentally exposed to the sight of another person."
Florida is one of five states to have an outright ban on open carry, though Republican lawmakers have attempted to pass bills permitting open carry for concealed weapons permit holders for years in the Florida Legislature.
Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, filed a similar measure this year, but the legislation was never heard on the Senate floor.
“The Norman case is one of a litany of cases [that influenced my bill], but the way the court has defined [the law in that case] necessitated the bill we filed,” Steube told Sunshine State News Monday.
Steube told SSN he didn’t understand the court’s rationale in charging CCW permit holders for accidentally revealing their firearms.
“Law abiding citizens who have a valid concealed carry permit shouldn’t be charged with unintentionally displaying their firearms,” he said. “It’s absurd to think somebody who has a legal permit gets arrested for violating open carry and that’s how the Supreme Court is going to file the case against the statute.”
Steube said he plans to bring back the measure up for consideration next year.
“Everybody agreed it was an issue that needed to be addressed,” he said.
Florida Carry said Florida Supreme Court justices didn’t fully analyze the open carry ban, alleging the state did not execute the highest and most stringent legal review in assessing the ban: the strict scrutiny test.
“If a standard of scrutiny is applied to the ban on open bearing of arms, it should be strict scrutiny,” Florida Carry wrote. “Florida’s ban does not even pass intermediate scrutiny, and the lower court did not even purport to rely on evidence that it does.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.