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OPINION: Retired Florida police chief says DeSantis’s Constitutional Carry will be disastrous

OPINION: Retired Florida police chief says DeSantis’s Constitutional Carry will be disastrous

OPINION: Retired Florida police chief says DeSantis's Constitutional Carry will be disastrous

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There was a death on March 14, 2022. It was the death of Florida House Bill 103, titled, “Carrying of Firearms Without Licenses.”

It came to life on September 15, 2021, and was laid to rest six months later in the burial grounds called the Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee.

Anthony Sabatini, the bill’s father and ultimate August 2022 primary loser, was not going to allow this burial to go on without protest.

Sabatini, only a month later requested a special session to address this very issue, to which Governor Ron DeSantis said “Put it on my desk and I will sign it.”

There have been a few special sessions from that point in April throughout the remainder of 2022.

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In each one, there were issues far greater than the still “pushing up daisies” HB 103.

So that is that.

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We can bring flowers and a container of water and pay our respects occasionally, right?

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When the Florida legislature gets back together in April 2023, the odds are very good, if not even money, that a bill advocating for “Constitutional Carry” will reach DeSantis’s desk.

And he will sign it.

He claims “that puts us in line with the majority of states that have done that.”

He is correct.

More states than not, have what is known as Constitutional Carry, though for North Dakota it is only for the residents of that state.

So what is “Constitutional Carry” before we address the U.S. Constitution?

Basically, it means those who can legally possess a firearm cannot be banned from carrying handguns, (openly and/or in a concealed manner) and hence no state permit is required.

Some states have a mixed grab bag, per se, such as no laws prohibiting the open carry of a handgun but which require a permit to carry the handgun concealed.

It is interesting to note, that by and large, those states that have not transitioned over to “Constitutional Carry” with the exception of Texas, are on the coast, and/or more populated areas.

I just say that in passing.

Let’s address the U.S. Constitution now.

In the hallmark, United States Supreme Court case, 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller 554 U.S. 570 it stated that the Second Amendment protected an individual’s right to keep weapons at home for self-defense not related to militia service.

As such, the Supreme Court struck down the provisions of 1975’s Control Regulation Act.

Justice Scalia, who wrote the opinion for the majority stated “The Second Amendment is not unlimited.  We do not cast doubt on concealed-weapons prohibitions, laws barring possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, laws barring firearms in sensitive places like schools and government buildings…”

Thus,  just a question to no one in particular: Is it conceivable that those with undiagnosed mental illness, who applied for a conceal carry permit and had to complete an instructional safety course, could have been halted had issues come to the forefront?

Yes? No? Perhaps?

Well, it shall be non-existent now.

If people can carry a gun for it is their god-given right per the U.S. Constitution, who should ensure that at the very least, a gun training course is a requisite?

Is that thought anti-American?

I don’t know.

Is safety in and of itself, un-American?

I have been told that driving is a privilege, not a right.

Ok, I get that.

Still, there are a number of requirements strictly for safety purposes that ensure that at the very least, the person can handle a car.

Yes I know, I know, gun ownership is a right.

And you are correct. Yes, it is.

But carrying it strapped to your hip and/or under clothing (concealed) without some semblance of training is a disaster waiting to happen.

Going back to the car example, would you find it prudent to allow a 30-year-old person, who can legally own a car, but never had a license or was tested for license competencies, and tell him/her to take I-95 all the way from South Florida to Maine?

Chances are they may be fine.

But in the event they wrecked, the only response would be, “you should have known better.”

We need to know better!

What is going to stop a person with non-existent firearm skills, to take a gun into crowded areas?  Nothing.

You know why?

Because if it is concealed, no one will know he/he has it until they pull it out.

Let me be clairvoyant and ask myself the next retort that is coming from those foaming at the mouth.

“Yeah. But bad guys are carrying concealed guns.”

Yes, you are absolutely correct.

Bad guys are carrying weapons.

So here is how we counter that.

We allow “good” guys with absolutely no training to carry them too.

Is that the best argument we can put forward?

“Yeah, but a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.”

A well-trained, knowledgeable good guy with a gun, can.

Otherwise, you are going to have many friendlies KIA.

How many are going to be well-trained when it is not a necessity?

“Yeah, but it doesn’t happen in the other states. It is ok, they got it down pat.”

The other states ain’t Florida, particularly South Florida. South Florida is an animal all of its own.

You now allow everyone (non-criminal of course) to carry a firearm under their shirt or purse…How do you think an argument of two hotheads is going to end when now that they needn’t resort to knuckles?


Ok. Let’s see. Ironically, I will add,  the vast majority of GOP voters in Miami-Dade County oppose the “Constitutional Carry.”

They know better.

From a Giffords December survey: Miami-Dade voters support stronger gun laws by a 20:1 margin (65% stronger/3% less strong). Even DeSantis’ voters support stronger gun laws by a 15:1 margin (46%stronger/3% less strong). Two-thirds of key voting groups—registered nonpartisan voters (66%) and ticket splitters(70%)—feel the same. There is also no difference in race; white voters (61%) and Hispanic voters (63%) agree. Florida’s gun laws should be stronger.

Let’s now transition over to law enforcement.

The Republicans are the party of law enforcement.

If January 6th didn’t prove that to you, nothing will.

And boy, am I being sarcastic.

My sarcasm is oozing like a bad case of acne prior to family photos being taken at Christmas.

Reverting back to 2016, the Florida Sheriff’s Association was against an open-carry bill that was being floated.

Their argument was it would make it harder for police officers to ensure public safety.

Furthermore, and perhaps more telling, they criticized the bill for leaving out holstering issues and gun training.

Hmmm.  Gun training was a concern back then it seems.

How do things shape up now?

It seems the Florida Sheriffs are more on board now.

But in a 2022 Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) trending article titled: “When it comes to Permit-less Carry, Listen to the Police Chiefs,” among the many points proffered, the chiefs felt the permitting process was a good way of screening dangerous people from carrying guns in public.

Notice it said “dangerous” not criminal.

They may be one and the same, but often they are not.

Not every potentially dangerous person has an existing criminal record.

Another good point is the high number of firearm thefts from motor vehicles will climb as thieves know there ae going to be some places armed citizens cannot bring their firearms and as such will leave them in their cars.

So now, some petit-ante thief has just become an armed felon.

Quite frankly, there are just going to be more guns out on the street.

They are in cars, and it is a crap shoot as to where they are.

Regarding the open carry aspect, when police arrive on the scene of a call and multiple people are there too with sidearms holstered, do you not think that officer(s) is at a huge disadvantage?

Heck, that is worse than the concealed aspect, since, it will take more than such a sweep of the hand ( by someone who practices drawing all day in front of a mirror) to draw a gun from a waistband, under the clothing concealing it.

Can the officer also react to a threat he/she perceives?

Or just as bad, the officer gets complacent because he no longer perceives the gun as a threat to him/her.

Furthermore, do understand that not all criminals, those with bad intent, are caught.

Does that make them any less of a threat?

They will be carrying now with absolutely no threat of arrest of CCF.

It is going to happen.

“Yeah but the Second Amendment says we can bear arms.”

My response: “Yup.  For a militia using muskets that at best take 30 seconds to load and fire.”

If we are going back to 1789 or so for guidance, then it sure as hell don’t look good for Trump should he be found guilty of sedition because Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Franklin would weigh in with most Draconian opinions.

Look, there will be far more to write about on this topic from now until April, but I must end with this declaration:

I am very much pro-Second Amendment.

I am equally very much anti-gun violence and even more so anti-gun safety ignorance.

And what the hell is wrong with that?

David Magnusson is a retired police chief with 36 ½ years of law enforcement experience having spent 30 of these years with the Miami Police Department retiring as an assistant chief. He was chief of the Havelock Police Department in the Marine Corps City of Havelock, North Carolina, home to Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station. He returned to South Florida as chief of the El Portal Police Department.

He chaired the COVID and Domestic Violent Extremism Committees for the Association of Miami Dade County Chiefs of police. He teaches about Hate Crimes, Violent Extremism, and Inclusive Policing to law enforcement agencies.

A historian, Magnusson has written on military and presidential history topics. He is a diehard baseball (St. Louis Cardinals) and boxing fan. Magnusson resides in South Florida with his wife. Their children and grandchildren are never too far away.

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