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Florida Governor Signs Ban on Open Toting of Guns

October 10, 1987|Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The open carrying of guns was again forbidden in Florida on Friday as Gov. Bob Martinez signed a new law hastily passed to close a legal loophole.

The legislation, which took effect immediately, was passed this week after Atty. Gen. Bob Butterworth and other prosecutors warned that the loophole in a new law apparently made it possible for people to walk around in public carrying guns.

A concealed weapons law that went into effect Oct. 1 established a statewide system for getting licenses to carry handguns in purses, coat pockets and boots. However, the law also wiped out an 1893 statute that prohibited people from carrying weapons openly in public.

Some Tested Law

Legislators feared that national reports about the loophole could discourage tourists from coming to Florida. Some people strapped on side holsters and guns and walked into businesses to test the law.

"I don't believe there was enough out there to hurt the state's image," Martinez said. "I also recognize that bookings at hotels and conventions and airplane flights haven't weakened."

The National Rifle Assn.'s Florida affiliate, Unified Sportsmen of Florida, fought to get the concealed weapons law on the books and did not want any clarification. Some lawmakers argued that people carrying guns openly could be prosecuted under other sections of law.

Martinez said: "That's neither here nor there. I think most people I heard did believe there was a loophole."

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