Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the state’s general ban on openly carrying guns. The lead opinion acknowledged that an outright ban on carrying guns would seriously burden the right to bear arms “The core of the constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense,” the court concluded, includes carrying “firearms in public where a need for self-defense exists.” “‘To confine the right to be armed to the home is to divorce the Second Amendment from the right of self-defense described in Heller and McDonald.’” (I call this “the lead opinion” rather than “the majority” because it seemed to have gotten only three votes out of the six justices who participated. One justice concurred in the result without joining the lead opinion or writing a separate opinion, so we don’t know his reasoning; two justices dissented.)
But concealed carry of guns is generally allowed in Florida (a license is needed, but is broadly available). Therefore, the lead opinion concluded, “Florida’s Open Carry Law is not so close to the ‘core’ of [the Second Amendment right] as to prevent people from defending themselves,” given that “under Florida’s permissive ‘shall-issue’ licensing scheme, most individuals are not prevented from carrying a firearm in public for self-defense.” “Florida’s permissive, shall-issue, concealed-carry licensing scheme clearly ‘leave[s] open alternative channels’ to exercise the right” to have guns for self-defense in public places.
by Eugene Volokh