Miami Beach police chief warned about open-carry fishing event weeks ago

The brouhaha that occurred Sunday on Miami Beach’s South Pointe Pier — an armed confrontation, unlawful detentions, at least one injury and other civil rights abuse — need never have happened.

As we reported yesterday, a group of fishermen — who were lawfully open-carrying handguns — was fishing off of the South Pointe Pier in Miami Beach Sunday morning at around 10:40, when they were confronted by Miami Beach police officers.

At some point during the confrontation, a Miami Beach police officer pointed his gun at the group. At least one man was unlawfully detained and his weapon was confiscated. One fisherman was injured and taken to a hospital.

It appears the Miami Beach police officers did not know that while traditional open carry is generally banned, Florida law allows the open carry of handguns while hunting or fishing.

Now, it turns out that Miami Beach Police Chief Daniel Oates was told about the open-carry event weeks ago.

Here’s a letter sent to the chief by one of the organizers, which was copied to officials from Florida Carry, Inc.

June 7, 2018

Chief Oates,

My name is Christopher Philpot and I am an avid Florida Fisherman. The reason I am writing your office is because I wanted to notify you that on June 24, 2018 a few friends and I will be open carrying holstered handguns while fishing off of South Pointe Pier in Miami Beach. As you probably already know the open carrying of any firearm is legal in The State of Florida, pursuant a person engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting or going to or returning from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting expedition.

It is outlined by our State Legislators in Florida Statute: 790.25, The provisions of ss. 790.053 (Open Carrying of Weapons) 790.06 (License to carry concealed weapon or firearm) do not apply in the following instances, and, despite such sections, it is lawful for the following persons to own, possess, and lawfully use firearms and other weapons, ammunition, and supplies for lawful purposes (h) A person engaged in fishing, camping, or lawful hunting or going to or returning from a fishing, camping, or lawful hunting expedition.

The reason I wanted to reach out to your office is because I’m sure there will be citizens that do not know the law.They may contact Law Enforcement when they see someone open carrying a holstered handgun. I just want to be sure that The City of Miami Beach & Law Enforcement are fully aware that what we are doing is completely legal. My friends and I are law abiding citizens. We legally own our firearms and we have never committed any felonies or violent crimes. We are just a few people that love to fish and celebrate our Freedom & Second Amendment rights!


Christopher Philpot

CC- Eric Friday, Richard Nascak, Scott Whigham, Dennis Fields

Since the good chief was warned about the event and politely reminded about the applicable state law, when the civil rights lawsuits are filed — a very real possibility — he will have no one to blame but himself.

I can’t understand why his patrol officers were not told of the open-carry event in advance and trained on this specific law.

I sent an email to the police chief this morning seeking an interview.

I will update this story accordingly.


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. Ignorance and power-hungry authority reign supreme. Fascism is the key element is this issue, not vagueness, inattention, or forgetfulness. Having a shield, uniform, or apparent authority does not excuse one’s politeness, attitude, or respect.

    • Erik Bloomfield on

      Your exercise in drama does nothing positive for the 2nd Amendment. You should have followed the lawful orders of the policemen. Telling the police about your rights, the law on open carry and how they are violating your right is absurd–you don’t litigate your case with the police–the place for that is the courtroom. The police approaching you with weapons drawn is probably an over reaction–one that could have left you bloody or dead–all that drama to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights? Why don’t you get a CPL and carry concealed? The next time you pull a stupid stunt I’d bring an unarmed attorney with a video cam–the video you have is worthless–20 minutes of you whining coupled with video of gray sky.

      BTW, NRA member and fierce defender of the Bill or Rights, stunts and drama, not so much.

      • How are they creating drama? They were participating in a lawful activity and minding their own business (a.k.a peacefully assembling). Just cause the cops don’t like a law doesn’t give them a right to randomly arrest people. Looks like the police wanted some drama with their guns drawn Miami Vice style. These citizens were right to question why they were being detained. The law specifically allows the activity they were participating in. It would be like the cops arresting you for owning a motorcycle.

      • in other words, we should do as we’re told and then tell the cops parents afterwards???? what kind of an American are you?

  2. Having been notified weeks in advance of the up coming event this CHIEF no doubt ignored the notice as it is legal under the law and these fishermen have a great legal recourse now and hopefully do sue the HELL out of this DEPARTMENT! Ignorance of the notice is no excuse.

  3. Pingback: Open Carry Event in Miami Beach almost goes sideway. – Gun Free Zone

  4. The police ignored the letter since the power structure in Miami Beach is as such that it benefitted them to do so.

    Had they been civil (like every other FL police force where these events have happened) it would not have been satisfactory for the residents and politicians of Miami Beach. Miami Beach is very much a Democratic stronghold that looks askance on individual liberties and rights. Mayor Levine openly advocates for the rescinding of the Second Amendment.

  5. I wonder if the notification to the Chief was registered and if he had to sign for it acknowledging receipt of the said message?

  6. Police Chiefs are usually appointed, not elected, so a Democrat Mayor of a City or Town will appoint an anti-gun Democrat to the Office of Chief of Police.

  7. Pingback: Miami Beach police chief warned about open-carry fishing event weeks ago – The Gun Brief

  8. “I don’t know who you are … ” That, Sir, is irrelevant. You cannot detain, beat, commit violence upon and place in restraints random people just because you do not know who they are. That is a violation of the highest law in the land … in fact, the Law that actually constitutes this nation. [That, BTW, is why it is called a Constitution … because of what it does.]

    I am sure there are others who can voce these things in a better manner, but somebody has got to say it first.

    “Until we get there …” Until proven innocent? We are NOT under Italian or Mexican style Napoleonic codes, which allow the Police to arrest and require the Citizen to prove his innocence.y detaining these people in this manner, you are holding them unreasonably, and two+ hours is not a reasonable period of time to deprive anyone of explicit freedoms as enumerated in State and Federal law. It is presumed that as officers of The State you are familiar with both the letter and intent of the laws you are sworn to uphold. Instead, you commit these acts under color of “law” that does not exist.

    I will support the Police any time I can. But when they trample on the most basic of Humanity’s rights AND the Law that constitutes our beloved country, ALL bets are off. Regardless of what you have been told by your superior officers, their instructions that led you to violate higher law and authority placed you beyond the pale for these two+ hours. As terrible as you, your office, and your families (and I) might consider it to be, it would have been appropriate at this time for these citizens to defend themselves with all force reasonably appropriate to counter the force and threat you brought to bear against them. If you had been accosted by people who behaved as you did, and you and other officers had not responded with lethal force, we would have been demanding to know “Why?”

    This ranks right up there with police shooting or killing someone based upon no threat to persons, property or Government, no violation, and no disturbance of the public peace. The fact that without legal cause, you, the Police, had loaded weapons drawn and aimed at people, placing them and any onlookers under reasonable fear for their lives, removed Protection Under The Law from your own persons, regardless of the uniforms and badges you were improperly wearing during the time you were committing these offenses. By presenting this threat, you were, yourselves, in violation of both your oath and the terms of your employment.

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