Florida sheriffs ‘clarify’ their position on Second Amendment


In testimony Monday before a Senate committee in Tallahassee, Electra Bustle, lobbyist for the Florida Sheriff’s Association, clarified earlier remarks she made on behalf of her client, stating that the sheriffs realize Floridians have both a right to keep and to bear arms.

“The sheriffs in Florida support the Second Amendment, and we encourage law Bustleabiding citizens to take full advantage of their right to keep and bear arms.  I wanna take just a few minutes to clarify some remarks I made in the House committee,” Bustle said. “I tried to make a distinction between the right to own and bear firearms, and distinguish that from a concealed weapons permit, and unfortunately I used words that created a sound byte that now has muddied up the water.”

Bustle’s comments were made before the Senate Military Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee, which debated and then passed SB 296, a bill that allows Floridians to carry firearms during a declared emergency and mandatory evacuation.

fsaIn previous testimony before the House committee, Bustle told the lawmakers that “there is a difference between owning a firearm and carrying one concealed on your person. Owning a firearm is a right. Carrying concealed is a privilege, and it is a privilege that is earned by showing a higher degree of training and proficiency with a firearm.”

Bustle’s previous comments set off a firestorm of controversy, especially amongst the state’s 7 million gun owners.

“The only thing I was trying to say in the House committee, was there is a distinction in Florida,” Bustle said Monday. “We absolutely have the right, and the sheriff’s support the right, to own and carry firearms, but in Florida, we are a concealed weapons licensed state, and as a result there are certain eligibility requirements required of people who want to carry concealed.”

As to the Senate bill, and similar legislation in the House, Bustle said “We do have concerns if this is done without adequate parameters and adequate safeguards.

The bill needs to be amended, the sheriff’s spokeswoman said. “As drafted, we cannot support this bill.”

Marion Hammer, Florida’s NRA lobbyist and executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, pointed out that in Florida, open carry or concealed carry without a license are crimes.

She urged the Senators to support the bill.

Said Hammer:  “When your government orders you to take your family, grab your kids, grab your dog and leave your home and leave your belongings behind, you should never be deprived of the ability to protect yourself and your family. The Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep – to own – and to bear – to carry – firearms, and there can be no greater time of need to exercise those rights than when you or your family face danger. Please support the Second Amendment rights of your constituents, trust law abiding people to do the right thing. Please pass this bill.”

You can watch the committee hearing and testimony here. Bustle starts speaking at 3:15. Hammer addresses the committee at 13:20.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


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  3. Florida is not a police state. Since when do police make policy? Bustle should shut that pie hole under her nose.

  4. the liberal sheriff’s speak for ‘the Association’….they outnumber the Constitutional Sheriff’s that honor their oath and the Constitution…..ps In Florida we had open carry and it was fine …then the liberal Laughton childs and his ilk took it away…and now we are back to begging for our rights, as liberals are elected to office…they only follow ‘goose step’..marxist ideas….imho

  5. “We absolutely have the right, and the sheriff’s support the right, to own and carry firearms, but in Florida, we are a concealed weapons licensed state, and as a result there are certain eligibility requirements required of people who
    want to carry concealed.”

    Logic 101-

    1. FSA acknowledges to keep (own) and bear (carry) arms is a right.
    2. There are but two ways to carry a firearm, openly or concealed.
    3. Open carry is unlawful, with very few exceptions, therefore it cannot be the “right” the FSA acknowledges.
    4. Concealed carry is licensed, and is a privilege per both the FSA and a Florida appellate court, therefore it cannot be the “right” either.

    So FSA, where is the “right” to carry in Florida?

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  7. otto burgess on

    the second amendment says nothing about how one bares arms, only that they have the right to do so. the law is not constitutional and should be abolished. you have no choice in that people can carry. open carry is better but causes more ‘concern’ than it should. hidden carry just eliminates some of that. keep in mind that no criminal will open carry, ever.

  8. I emailed the FSA about our right to carry suddenly becoming a privilege, this was the response.

    Thank you for your email.

    The Sheriffs in Florida support the Second Amendment and we encourage law abiding citizens to take full advantage of their right to keep and bear arms in accordance with current law. We encourage them to keep firearms in the homes, vehicles and places of business and to engage in sports and recreational activities involving firearms. Florida is a concealed carry permit state and we think the requirements the legislature built into our concealed carry laws are the best in the nation. The laws balance the expanded authority to carry with appropriate education and demonstration of skill and public safety. So, we encourage our citizens who are qualified to obtain their concealed carry permits and keep their firearms with them.

    We understand the bill sponsors would like to expand the rights to carry concealed to EVERYONE during the time of declared emergency, but we have concerns, if this is done without adequate parameters and safeguards. Not everyone can meet the standards to carry a concealed firearm in our state and the last thing we want is for our citizens to somehow be put in harm’s way because the law was vague and therefore inconsistently applied.

    That is why we feel it’s important to amend the bill, so ALL citizens will be protected. We have worked with the sponsors of a number of gun rights bills this year to improve the clarity of the law while retaining the rights of citizens and we hope the sponsor of this bill will agree to work with us to do the same. To be clear our desire to amend the bill is not about the convenience of law enforcement, it is about creating and maintaining public safety in our state. In closing, while we oppose the bill in its current form, we are still hopeful that an amendment will be filed which will enable us to support the bill.

    Again, we appreciate your expression of concern. And we hope you will continue to support law enforcement in Florida.

    Take care,

    – Julie

    Julie S. Bettinger

  9. samadams1776 on

    Simple fix: the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a RIGHT and NOT a privilege–and understanding that it is a right that “shall not be infringed,” then why is open carry a crime at all–it wasn’t once. Nor should it be–not if it is a right. What we have is a right being treated as a privilege. Privileges are licensed; rights are not. Do you know of ANY other right that required a License?

    The immediate problem of those unlicensed to carry concealed is to repeal that section of 790 that makes open carry a crime (most states HAVE open carry) and problem is solved for those unlicensed to carry concealed.

    In the larger scheme of things, as a fundamental, pre-existing right, it shouldn’t be licensed at all; we need Constitutional Carry–and join the 5 other states that are actually obeying the Second Amendment. Remember, we do NOT get our right to keep and bear arms from the Bill of Rights(BOR)–that right is ASSUMED in the Second Amendment. What the BOR does generally, and what the Second Amendment does specifically is to LIMIT GOVERNMENT–a limitation which is wholly ignored when classes of weapons are denied or restricted (full automatic), licensed, or taxed. What do you think, “shall not be infringed,” means?

    The Second Amendment protects the rights of the people to keep and bear such arms as might be required to overthrow a tyrannical government (restore the Constitution from the usurpers that overthrew the Constitutional Representative Republic!

    What do you think gun control is REALLY all about? It is NOT about public safety-THAT is the excuse used to justify what cannot BE justified!

    Terrence Gorman, general counsel for the Department of Military Affairs in my opinion violates his oath making him a traitor to the republic and the state, whose constitutions he swore to uphold.

    I can’t guess the future, but if there ever is armed insurrection (the declaration of independence says it is not only a right of the people, but a DUTY to throw off tyranny–obviously not necessarily “lawful”–remembering that strictly speaking our founders were in fact traitors to the crown) but if it ever happens, there will be trials and like at Nuremberg, the excuse, “I was just following orders,” won’t fly. I am pinning my own hopes on an Article 5 Convention–there is a growing movement for that—we need it!

    Now like in Germany, it was illegal (as it is here) for military to criticize the government and its officials–ANY officials–but don’t you think that if enough of the military, officers and enlisted criticized the policies and said no or threatened
    rebellion against the civil authority, that a hell of a big mess could have been averted? We’ll never no, of course, because it didn’t go down that way.

    Sometimes, we just don’t learn from history!


    SamAdams1776 III – Oathkeeper
    Molon Labe
    Qui tacet consentit
    Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges
    Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset

  10. Lee Williams on

    Interesting email, Allan. Julie Bettinger is a Tally-based freelance writer who’s working on providing content to the FSA’s website. It’s interesting that she’s their spokesperson.

  11. Pingback: Florida Sheriff's Association attacking 'Hurricane CCW' bill

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