COC, "Concealed Open Carry", is a quiet and peaceful First Amendment Protest, and it's coming to Florida.
It's a manner of firearms carry that can legally be exercised by any citizen who possesses a weapons carry license issued by Florida or issued by any other state that is recognized by the state of Florida as a reciprocal state.
How Does One Do COC?
It can be something as simple as wearing a t-shirt in a public park or at any other publicly owned property * or building where licensed firearms carry is legal, which states: "Lawfully Armed".
Or wearing your spare ammo carrier or pouch openly. Or wearing Paul Schaller's "pistol dust cover" (pictured below on the left) over your outside-the-waistband holster and pistol. Or openly wearing any holster which fully covers your handgun - all of these things are legal in all places where concealed carry is legal, under current state law.
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All of the above activities are also legal on private property, but you have to leave private property if asked, or risk being arrested for armed trespass, a felony.
Why Do COC?
Because once again, Florida (with a Republican majority in both state houses and a Republican Governor) has failed to restore the right of open carry of sidearms that citizens in 45 other states enjoy.
"Republican" turncoat and traitor, Senator Anitere Flores, the Senate President Pro Tempore in the Florida state legislature turned against almost two million licensed-to-carry citizens (after begging the NRA for a good rating in a personal letter when running for reelection), and used her position on the Senate Judiciary Committee to keep SB 644 (Open Carry) blocked in committee to keep it from a full vote in the Senate.
So far, she has not been over-ruled by Senate President Joe Negron (as he has the power to do, who is A+ rated by the NRA) in her decision to oppose this and other pro-liberty bills that would also legalize campus carry and airport carry (in non-sterile areas).
“The role of Senate President Pro Tempore is a significant position of trust and authority. Anitere is a loyal friend and trusted ally. She also has longstanding relationships with many returning and new Senators. She has a proven ability to work in a bipartisan manner without compromising her own unwavering principles. I have complete confidence in her ability to represent the Senate in this important leadership position.” - Senate President Joe Negron, Nov. 10th, 2016
And Senator Greg Steube (good man and patriot), who sponsored those pro-freedom bills has not yet publicly called out Sen. Negron on his dereliction of duty, nor scheduled any hearings for the bills in his own committee.
Here we have tyranny and a defeatist attitude working together to again deny us the restoration of our rights. Typical for Florida these days.
But citizen patriots are starting to wake up, and we have a plan. If Florida politicians don't get it into gear this session, there will be some embarrassment for them until they get settled into their next legislative session.
Up to this point meek, mild, implorative petitions to have our Constitutional Rights honored and restored have so far fallen on the unconcerned ears of Republican state politicians who enjoy high ratings from the NRA, but who are loath to do anything substantial to actually earn their good grades.
Yes, we have had a precious few true friends from time to time in the Florida Legislature working to restore our basic self-defense firearms carry rights. As mentioned earlier, Senator Greg Steube is one such patriot and friend.
But the animosity runs so deep against licensed-to-carry citizens, that even Senator Steube (he should be raising Cain and publicly calling out Senator Negron) has fallen prey to some degree to a defeatist attitude. How deep, might you ask?
In Florida, you can be fined and jailed for not covering over your holstered pistol, even if you have submitted an application, paid the government fee (poll tax), passed the background checks, taken an approved training course, have been finger-printed and photographed, and finally issued a weapons carry license by the state.
And this infringement has been going on since 1987, when Democrat Janet Reno rallied the antis to make peaceful open carry a criminal act. That's a lot of deep.
After jumping through all the hoops Florida forces you to jump through in order to exercise your Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms as guaranteed by the Supreme Law of the Land, the U.S. Constitution, you have to keep your firearm HIDDEN under clothes or in a fanny pack or purse, or ELSE! The else is the threat of armed and badged agents of the government putting you in handcuffs and stuffing you into a patrol car for a free ride to jail, rudely interrupting your day.
The shame to Florida is that wearing a holstered pistol in broad daylight (or nighttime) uncovered in public is legal in 45 other states, with about 30 of those states not even requiring a carry license!
That's so sweet of Florida to protect people from themselves. If only licensed-to-carry citizens were responsible, law-abiding adults, Florida would not have to treat them like children who cannot handle that much freedom (have I laid on the sarcasm thick enough here?).
When citizens COC, the public will know that the emperor is wearing no clothes.
People will wonder if there is any real difference whether you see someone's handgun or not, as long as you clearly know the person is armed.
The public will know at that point that Florida having a general ban on carrying a holstered pistol openly is like someone loudly "whispering" a secret. What will be the point of the secrecy? Just because the government says it should be that way?
COC is likely to garner more attention than actual open carry, because it is a manner of carry that is a little unusual, in that people usually either carry concealed with no indication they are armed, or they carry openly.
But this quiet, non-confrontational protest is precisely what we need to demand our rights back. The reason to carry in a COC manner in the first place is because Florida is an unusual state. It's firearms carry laws are strange.
You see, in Florida, open carry of handguns is no legal trouble at all if you do so while fishing, hunting, target shooting, or camping - or directly going to or from those activities, WITH NO CARRY LICENSE REQUIRED!
To put a licensed-to-carry mother or father in jail for not covering their holstered pistol in any other circumstance, such as when walking on a trail in a park or down the street, after jumping through all the hoops to receive a carry license is immoral, especially in light of Second Amendment protections against such abuse.
Licensed-to-carry citizens in Florida have been proven to be six times less likely to commit crime than law enforcement. Why should law-abiding citizens be barred from publicly exercising their right to be armed?
Why does Florida have to be the odd-ball among supposedly liberty-loving Southern states?
South Carolina is the only other Southern state to generally ban open carry of handguns, but it looks like their H.3930 bill is on the way to success, having recently passed their House, which will legalize open carry for them if it becomes law.
To Florida I say: Remove the infringements and let citizens carry as they choose - concealed or openly. Liberty Demands It!
At the very least, RINO politicians need to stop pretending they support our rights while they maneuver to backstab us. At least be honest about it like the Democrats who oppose our freedoms.
So far, their excuse has been tourist dollars, but where are the tourists going to go when Florida removes criminal penalties for open carry, to the 45 other states where open carry is legal now?
I routinely open carry in Georgia, in the Metro Atlanta area no less, where tourists abound, with no issues. Even during crowded festivals. The tourism argument measured against our rights is like weighing a feather against a brick.
The good news is that FloridaCarry.org, of which I am a member, has now endorsed COC as a valid means of exercising our First Amendment Rights along with our Second Amendment Rights. Folks, this means the kid gloves are off! The politicians will now know we mean serious business.
Certainly, those of us who COC will use our freedom of speech to speak with a voice loud enough to finally be heard. Here's to victory!
* The advantage of COC style carry in and on public property (unless courthouse, school, etc.) is that you cannot be trespassed for being armed and peacefully advertising that fact, due to the protections of firearm state law preemption, and the First Amendment.