Florida sheriffs worried over bill allowing permit holders to openly carry.

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee envisions gunslinging paradegoers, free to…

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee envisions gunslinging paradegoers, free to drink alcohol and openly display pistols.

Now picture Florida’s beaches.

Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats sees no reason why, starting this July, visitors couldn’t pack their own heat under the sun.

On Wednesday, local sheriffs joined others statewide to voice trepidation over a bill in the Florida Legislature that would allow people with concealed weapons permits to openly carry guns.

Both the Senate and House versions of the bill passed their criminal justice committees this week. If enacted into law, it would take effect July 1.

Supporters say the bill is meant to protect permit holders whose guns are accidentally made visible. Marion Hammer, former president of the National Rifle Association, has testified that permit holders have been unfairly punished in cases where, for example, a strong wind blows a shirt up and exposes a gun.

The Senate bill is sponsored by Greg Evers, R-Baker, and the House’s version is co-sponsored by eight Republicans.

Sheriffs across the Tampa Bay region say that the “accidental exposure” argument is ludicrous.

They’re worried that criminals might steal exposed weapons and possibly use them against gun owners.

Source: Jessica Vander Velde for St. Petersburg Times.

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  • Safe Operator

    All the sheriffs’ I’m familiar with actually endorse this coming into law.
    Steal an exposed firearm and use it against its owner?
    According to Fla. Law, that in itself is reason to use deadly force.
    Ask Charlie Beckwith at Beckwiths guns in Micanopy Fla.
    He’s probably killed more perps trying to rip him off than most soldiers in Iraq.
    Get ’em Charlie.

  • Robert

    Why not carry openly, I work is in security with a firearm, I rather see what”s coming my way than to be surprised. With a permit you carry openly no problem but when someone conceals that someone is hiding something and I would like to know for my safety.

  • jesse

    Who is trying to steal a gun from someone open-carrying? that is an even more ridiculous argument!

  • General Jim M

    Why would a sheriff be afraid of the citizens who pay his’ wages wearing a gun openly,just as he does?I guess he would have to be more polite to citizens during an official encounter because they might have bigger guns.I was a soldier,i was a cop,i never feared the American citizen.I never assumed that the citizen was a badguy,or that he had less of a right to carry a gun as i did.Sheriffs,get over it,if you’re afraid of the people,quit.