In a decision rendered last week, Norman v. State, the Florida Supreme Court rejected a Second Amendment challenge to Florida's "Open-Carry" law. The statute in question, section 790.053, prohibits individuals from visibly carrying firearms in public. Under the statutory scheme, a gun-owner must first obtain a license to carry a firearm in public. Even after they obtain a license, they still must conceal the firearm-for instance, in an article of clothing-when they are carrying. Failure to do so is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60-days' imprisonment and a $500 fine. The Open Carry law also contains sixteen exceptions, including one for bringing firearms on fishing, camping, or hunting expeditions.
On February 18, 2015, the Fourth District Court of Appeal decided the case of Norman v. State, 2015 WL 669582 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015). The defendant in Norman was arrested and charged with the offense of open carrying of a weapon, in violation of §790.053, Fla. Stat. (2012). He filed a motion to dismiss, which was denied by the trial court. However, the court certified three questions to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, all of which related to the constitutionality of Florida's open carry laws. Those questions were: (1) is Florida's statutory scheme related to the open carry of firearms constitutional; (2) do the exceptions to the prohibition against open carry constitute affirmative defenses to a prosecution for a charge of open carry, or does the State need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular defendant is not conducting himself or herself in the manner allowed; and (3) does the recent "brief and open display" exception unconstitutionally infect the open carry law by its vagueness?