Appellant Dale Norman with the support of Florida Carry, which is a pro-gun lobbyist group, petitioned the court on an issue of first impression, asking the court to determine “whether the Second Amendment forbids the State of Florida from prohibiting the open carry of firearms while permitting the concealed carry of weapons under a licensing scheme.”
The issue arose after Norman was arrested while in possession of a firearm that he was carrying openly. Norman was charged with Open Carrying of a Weapon in violation of section 790.053, Florida Statues (2012), which prohibits the open carry of a firearm.
Currently in the United States, 44 states allow the open carry of a firearms — 30 states allow open carry without a license and 14 states require a permit for open carry. However, in six states open carry is not permitted: Texas, California, Illinois, Florida, New York, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia.
Keep and bear arms
Norman asserted that the statute was unconstitutional because he had a constitutional right to “keep and bear arms,” and that the law infringed upon his Second Amendment right by prohibiting him from “the carry of firearms that are unconcealed even those people to whom the state has issued a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm.”
Norman’s argument forced the court to conduct a thorough interpretation of the Second Amendment in order to parse out the scope of the protection that the founders intended. The US Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller, 478 F. 3d 370, that the Second Amendment protects the right of an individual to keep a gun inside his home in order to ensure his protection.
However, the Florida court went on to say “the Supreme Court found that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to carry arms in case of confrontation, including the general right to carry a weapon outside the home for self-defense.”
The court reasoned that not allowing the carrying of a handgun outside the home for self-defense purposes would bar the true meaning of bearing arms as set forth in the Second Amendment. However the court also looked to the Florida Constitution, which states:
The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.
Laws that regulate only the “manner in which persons may lawfully exercise their Second Amendment rights,” US v. Marzzarella, 614 F.3d at 97 (3d Cir. 2010), have been held to be less burdensome than those which bar firearm possession completely. See US v. Decastro, 682 F.3d 160, 166 (2d Cir. 2012).
Therefore, because the statute regulated only the manner in which Florida citizens could exercise their Second Amendment right, it was constitutional, and the court affirmed the trial court decision upholding the ban on open carrying within the state of Florida.
The case is Dale Norman v. State of Florida; Case No. 4D12-3525 (February 18, 2015).