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Gun rights group debates Florida's open carry law

LORIDA NEWS SERVICE: Floridians should be allowed to openly carry firearms in public, a gun-rights groups argued Wednesday before the Florida Supreme Court.

The group Florida Carry is representing Dale Norman, a Fort Pierce man who was arrested three years ago for violating the state's concealed weapon law while walking with a visibly holstered weapon. At the time, Norman had recently received a concealed-carry permit, something more than 1.5 million people currently possess according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Florida Carry attorney Eric Friday argued before the court that the state's nearly 30-year-old concealed-carry law is in violation of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which he said requires open-carry. Friday told justices the legislature is depriving citizens of their right to bear arms.

“They have offered no evidence, and they have not met their burden that they are required to meet under strict scrutiny, to show that there is some real harm that is being addressed by this ban, " says Eric Friday, Attorney, Florida Carry.

Several justices appeared skeptical of his argument. Justices Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince questioned how the current state statute allowing law-abiding citizens to receive a concealed-carry firearm permit suppresses gun ownership. Representing the state, assistant Attorney General Heidi Betterndorf argued that concealed-carry is a "policy decision" of the legislature.
“My opponent argues that the constitutional right is the right to open carry outside the home," says Heidi Betterndorf, Assistant Attorney General. "The state’s position is the constitutional right is the right to carry outside the home. So, therefore you can reasonably regulate under the Florida Constitution.”

However, Justice Charles Canady asked if public safety is served better by concealed-carry than open-carry.

Staff, Mysuncoast.com

Kanawha County could vote on allowing Sunday hunting in November election

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A referendum on whether hunting should be allowed on Sundays in Kanawha County is one step closer to being up for a vote on Election Day.
A 5-2 vote from the Kanawha Planning Commission Wednesday night recommended that the county commission add the measure to the November ballot.
“We think property owners should be able to use their property any time of the year, like any other county that’s passed Sunday hunting in recent years. We fully support it,” said Jason Webb representing the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Planning commissioner JD Stricklen was one the two ‘no’ votes, but he said it wasn’t because he was against hunting.

“I’m all for hunting, I’m all for guns; all my friends are hunters; I own firearms and support the NRA,” he said. “There’s other uses for the woods and nature other than hunting. I’m fine with the six days a week, but I’d like to save one day a week for recreating, picnicking, hiking; being able to take small children into the woods.”

Kem Shaw, a Division of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, said he came to Wednesday’s meeting to provide some facts but said the DNR was neutral on the issue.

“I was here and wanted to stress that if we do allow Sunday hunting, this doesn’t impact our management efforts,” Shaw said. “We don’t want to kill too many deer, but we haven’t so far.”
Shaw pointed out that for the last five years, deer kill numbers have been steady. Webb argued that most states had moved beyond banning hunting on Sunday.

“West Virginia is one of only eight states left in the nation that bans Sunday hunting in some form,” he said. “We have surrounding states of Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia that allow it. West Virginia needs to create a destination hunting state, and one way to that is to remove the ban on all 55 counties.”

Stricklen said that the last time a measure to allow Sunday hunting was on the ballot in Kanawha County in 2001, it failed overwhelmingly by about a 2:1 ratio.

“At the end of the day, it’ll end up most likely on the ballot to where the members of this county can decide,” he said.

21 West Virginia counties currently allow Sunday hunting on private lands only, while 34 do not allow it, according to the DNR website.

By Matt Maccaro, WVmetronews.com

Smart-gun advocates seek market change

WASHINGTON — A grassroots organization including religious leaders from Fairfield County is promoting incentives for gun manufacturers to invest in smart-gun technology — something the firearms industry has long resisted.

“We are in this for the long haul,’’ said Rabbi Michael Friedman, of Temple Israel in Westport. “We are people of faith. We know this may take a while, but we are not going to give up.’’
The effort, sponsored by an alliance of religious and civic leaders calling itself Do Not Stand Idly By, represents a departure from the norms of gun-violence-prevention advocacy. Instead of an uphill fight against the Republican majority in Congress for expanded background checks and other gun-control measures, the alliance is putting its chips on the purchasing power of federal, state and local governments.

Gun purchases for police officers — 40 percent of the total, according to one estimate — theoretically could give manufacturers the financial incentive they need to develop smart-gun technology for the general public.

“This has to come from the bottom up; it has to be grassroots,’’ said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who attended the group’s meeting Tuesday on Capitol Hill. “We are the most consumer-driven country in the world. And there will be nothing so powerful as American gun owners and buyers seeking smart technology in the guns they buy.’’

The group wants members of Congress to encourage federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to engage gun manufacturers on developing smart guns as part of the contracting process. Manufacturers have been loath to get into smart-gun technology because of boycott threats by gun buyers and gun-rights groups, which see smart guns as potentially leading to other kinds of gun restrictions.

The group’s push forward on smart guns got a shot in the arm last month when President Barack Obama directed the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to move forward on a plan with state and local law enforcement to develop specifications for smart guns.

A report by the two agencies stipulated there would be no mandate to purchase smart guns — something strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association. But the president called for development of specifications for smart guns, as well as testing by the Defense Department.

Smart guns are operational only by owners through a code or biometric measure like a thumbprint. Limited access would prevent deadly discharges by toddlers and take away incentives to steal guns.

The issue resonates in Connecticut because Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooter Adam Lanza took his mother’s arsenal to kill her, and then 20 children and six adults at the school in 2012.

“Adam Lanza didn’t own the guns he used at Sandy Hook,’’ said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who also attended the meeting. “You can’t go back and try to rewrite history . . . we don’t know what would have happened had those been smart guns, but you can guess.’’

Chairing the session was Pastor Anthony Bennett of Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport, who also is co-chairman of CONECT _ Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, an alliance of local religious leaders addressing social, political and economic issues.
“There is no panacea,’’ he said, referring to steps needed to curb ongoing gun violence in Bridgeport. But “this is utilizing the free market. (Government) will create a demand, just like in other industries.’’

By Dan Freedman, Ctpost.com