An open letter to whom? Open-carry activist attacks Sen. Steube over open-carry logjam

Ammoland is one of those websites I check every morning — a true, must-read website.

It’s chock-full of the latest guns, gear and gadgets, but it also covers competitive shooting, hunting groups and associations, archery, gun and knife rights, as well as the firearms industry itself.

Ammoland‘s list of contributors reads like a “who’s who” of the firearms world — great writers all.

This morning, however, one of the stories posted on the site stopped me cold: “Open letter to Florida Senator Steube on Open Carry.”

And, quite frankly, it pissed me off.

It was written by Phillip Evans, who appears to be an open-carry activist at one time associated with

Mr. Evans’ open letter fell far wide of the mark.

He attempts to hold Florida Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, responsible for the failure — so far — of open-carry legislation to be signed into law.

“We see the writing on the wall, that once again we are getting lip service but no action on open carry. SB 646 is the ‘consolation prize’. But no, that won’t pacify us,” Evans wrote. “We know you tried. If there is anything else you can do, respectfully, now would be the time. We want to see movement on SB 644 and we want to see a companion bill in the House – with NO watered down language.”

If Evans’ demands are not met, he promises “there will be PROVOCATIVE protests at large public events on public property, where we will openly carry enclosed gun-shaped holsters that hide our firearms, but that do not hide the FACT we are lawfully and peacefully armed.

“Our rights will be honored, or we will do our best to bring embarrassment to the Florida Legislature. This is our BOSTON TEA PARTY!!!,” he wrote. (The exclamation points are his.)

I’ve got more than a few problems with this post.

First, anytime you write an “open letter” to an elected official, it implies they have done something wrong. I’ve only written one open letter in 20 years of journalism. It’s that strong of a tool. It singles the official out and tells the reader they’re accountable for the bad acts that follow in the letter. And in Sen. Steube’s case, nothing could be farther from the truth.

I’ve watched and written about Sen. Steube’s attempts to get open carry legislation through a hostile Legislature for four years. No one I know has tried harder. And it’s not just OC that he’s introduced.

Sen. Steube has personally sponsored campus carry, airport carry, courthouse carry and about a dozen other bills that would eliminate gun-free zones across the state.

He’s become the anti-gunners’ poster boy, and has been bashed by mainstream media across the state and around the country.

Still, every session, he diligently reintroduces slates of pro-gun bills.

Perhaps a better addressee for Mr. Evans’ open-letter angst would have been Florida Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, who, until she recently flipped and stalled every pro-gun bill, had a 100 percent voting record with NRA and an A rating.

If anyone is responsible for delaying open carry legislation it is her, not Sen. Steube.

Mr. Evans picked the wrong senator. After all, Sen. Flores is still trying to justify how she overnight became anti-gun.

I talked to Sen. Steube this morning.

Neither Evans nor anyone from Ammoland contacted him for comment before the open letter was published.

That’s a problem.

Before I take a journalistic jab at someone, I always call them for comment!!! (The exclamation points are mine.)

You can call someone out. You can say they’re wrong, but you must give them the opportunity to respond and the ability to state their side. It’s fair and it’s the right thing to do.

Whether they decline to comment or not, you have to at least make an attempt.

That in mind, Ammoland’s editor did not immediately return calls seeking comment for this story.

GeorgiaCarry.Org’s executive director said he has contacted Evans on my behalf. “If he is interested in talking to you, he will contact you as he has your contact information,” he said.

So far, I haven’t heard from Mr. Evans.

If Sen. Steube had a chance to respond and state his case, I doubt this open letter would have been published.

After all, if I was looking to assign blame for the fact Florida still doesn’t allow open carry, he’d be last on my list.


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.

1 Comment

  1. First off, I will go on the record as saying I agree that citizens should have the right to open carry in their state. Here in Virginia there simply is no law against open carry, which means it is legal and I see people doing it. Not me, but if others want to that’s fine so long as they do it responsibly.

    However . . . anytime I see open carry advocates threatening or conducting “provocative” protests, all I can see are the Liberal press stories and doctored pictures that will no doubt show up in the following week. Don’t get me wrong, our state gun rights organization has lobby days and public picnics where everyone is carrying wither concealed or openly, and these are without a doubt political statements. In fact, our state organization is suing Katie Couric because her show misrepresented virtually everything our leadership said to her in an interview to include editing the tapes to essentially falsify what was said. But doing everything you can to freak out the non-gun folks in your community is counter productive.

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