TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – A bill that would allow Florida gun owners to openly carry their weapons is headed to a full vote.
The bill cleared a committee vote 12 to 4 on Thursday.
The next step will be a full vote by the Florida House in the next few weeks.
If it passes there, and gets passed in the Senate, concealed gun permit holders would no longer be required to hide their handguns. They would be allowed to wear a gun on their hip as long as it's holstered.
Rep. Dennis Baxley of Ocala is supporting the bill because he believes strapped citizens could prevent crime.
"We've seen that if you empower law abiding citizens to stop violent acts, they can, they will and they do. And the presence of a law abiding citizen lawfully carrying a firearm does often serve as a deterrent from them being victimized and treated as a victim," he explained.
At a recent gun show, CBS4 found gun owners themselves were split on the idea.
"I just don't think it would be a good look for the state, for Florida in particular," said Dylan Rives.
Pamula Schlesinger, however, favors open carry.
"I have concealed weapons permit. I always carry a weapon. Even if I'm wearing a dress with Louis Vuitton shoes I have a gun strapped to my thigh and one in my breasts. And I take care of myself," she said.
Even law enforcement is split on the concept of an open carry policy. The sheriff's association supports it, with some amendments. The police association doesn't.
Sen. Oscar Braynon plans to fight the bill.
"The gun violence that I see is kids getting shot in Liberty City, the kids that are getting shot in Miami Gardens, by random gunfire. More guns on the street is not good for me," Braynon said.
But with National Rifle Association support the bill, it stands a good chance of getting to a vote.
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