Military and Police

Why is the NRA Asking Members to Support a Firearms Bill that Already Exists?

Any thoughts as to why the NRA is asking members to support this bill?

In late March 2017, the NRA-ILA (Institute for Legislative Action), the branch of the NRA that helps to try and get legislation passed in states, sent out an email to it’s Florida followers asking them to support Senate Bill-646 which the NRA-ILA called an “Open Carry Protection” bill.  They went on to say they need members and supporters to email the legislators to ask them to support and pass SB-646.

What the NRA-ILA says is that this bill “removes the criminal penalties for violations of the open carry law and prohibits a person who has a concealed firearms license from being arrested and charged with a crime if their firearm becomes temporarily exposed to the sight of another person,” when it does no such thing. The bill actually creates a three strikes rule, and does nothing to remove the criminal penalties for a non-licensee. the email from the NRA goes on to say that the bill “is about stopping the abuse of law-abiding citizens who are licensed to carry concealed firearms for self-defense.”

Current Florida law already states that it is NOT a crime to accidentally and temporarily expose your concealed firearm. That is the current Florida State Statute 790.053, open carrying of weapons. It is not a violation of this section for a person who is licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s.790.06(1), and who is “lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person, unless the firearm is intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner, not in necessary self-defense.”

But it got changed by amendments, and now is no better and only makes things worse. The NRA is asking its members and others to write their legislators to show their support for this bill. Why? What could they possibly want that for? Politics plain and simple, to show and say they supported this bill as they tout it as a “good bill” for firearms owners and carriers when it is nothing of the sort.

A huge red flag that should go up for NRA members and those that follow the lead of the NRA-ILA is that Sheriff Bob Gualtieri of Florida is known for being against expanding the rights of Florida’s law abiding firearms owners in any way and even has gone on to say so publicly. This is a quote from his official Sheriff’s Office Facebook page:

I have and do oppose the general open carrying of firearms. I spoke today before the Florida House Judiciary Committee in support of HB779 as this bill maintains the prohibition against open carry of guns but protects concealed carry permit holders from being charged with a criminal or civil offense if they mistakenly display their guns while lawfully carrying concealed. The bill also has a graduated penalty if a permit holder’s display is more than temporary and preserves the criminal penalty provision if the permit holder inadvertently displays his or her gun more than three times. The law should never be a “gotcha” and if a concealed carry permit holder makes an inadvertent mistake they should not face a penalty for their jacket blowing open, etc…. This bill is supported by the Florida Sheriff’s Association, the NRA and many other organizations. The bill passed in committee and now heads for a vote by the full House of Representatives.”

Evidently, the good Sheriff does not know his own state law on open carry. It’s already legal for accidental and temporary exposure. I quote from Florida State Statute 790.053 – “It is not a violation of this section for a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm as provided in s.790.06(1), and who is lawfully carrying a firearm in a concealed manner, to briefly and openly display the firearm to the ordinary sight of another person,”

I am a Life Member of the NRA, and I support much of what they do and stand for, but I cannot stand by and be silent when I see something that is purposefully misleading the firearms owners in Florida! I do not support this bill and do not like that the NRA-ILA is trying to tell others to support something that is not good or truthful.

You can read the release here.


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Chris Wagoner

Chris Wagoner is a U.S. Army Veteran and has been in law enforcement the last 35+ years. He specializes in LE Firearms Instruction, and is in charge of a large Police Academy in North Florida. In his spare time Chris is a freelance writer and posts his articles on "Down Range with Chris Wagoner".

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