Opinion: On armed fishing

Florida Carry Inc. recently sued the Miami Beach Police for the heavy-handed way officers confronted their members who were lawfully fishing while openly carrying handguns.

Click here to read the story.

Florida law only allows the open carry of handguns under very limited circumstances, such as hunting,  fishing and a few more.

Personally, I was fine with that.

Tactically, I’ve never thought much of the practice.

As one friend is fond of saying, your concealed handgun is your ace in the hole, so why would you want to show your hole card?

When I was a cop, I was constantly aware that the exposed gun on my hip was a target for the crazed and the crazy, which is why weapon retention skills were paramount.

Open carriers, I thought, were just looking for a confrontation. It was more of a stunt than a reliable tactical option, I believed.

For me, this all changed last March, when former Florida Governor Rick Scott — now our U.S. Senator — signed into law the most sweeping and comprehensive gun control bill in the history of the state.

From a Second Amendment perspective, Scott’s bill was chock-full of badness: It barred all those under 21 from purchasing firearms, imposed a three-day waiting period and it introduced unconstitutional Red Flag laws into our beloved Gunshine state.

Prior to signing this bill, Scott had been the most pro-gun governor we had ever seen. He signed more pro-gun legislation in his first term than any other governor did in two.

How did this happen? Why did he flip? While we’re still trying to figure out, conventional wisdom says Scott signed the bill because he was worried about pressure — from both the public and the media.

After all, those who would strip us of our Second Amendment rights held marches and rallies while we remained mostly silent.

The gun community quietly shifted from offense to defense.

I hate playing defense.

In my humble opinion, it’s time for gun owners to come out of our gun rooms and engage in some activism and civil disobedience of our own.

Our rights are under assault on several fronts. Bumpstocks are just the beginning. The ban will become the template for stripping us of much more, since their goal has always been semi-autos, along with standard-capacity magazines.

Therefore, we need to reinforce that we too are watching the goings on in Tallahassee a D.C., and it will likely take a few headlines and lawsuits to prove our point.

If this involves more rallies and marches, so be it.

If it involves a few highly motivated individuals openly carrying handguns while dangling lines on the end of a public fishing pier, good on ’em!

Bring on the confrontations, and kudos to the armed fishermen.


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. I don’t want to open carry most of the time but it should be my choice, like it is in 45 other states. There are plenty of other places besides the fishing pier or duck blind where today I’m prohibited that choice. If I’m riding my horse on my friends ranch, today it’s illegal for me to have my Ruger Vaquero on my hip. If I’m hiking in Bear country , but not hunting or camping, I’m breaking the law if I open carry.
    If i am participating in one of the exceptions now i have to take my gun off and leave it in the car, if it isn’t readily concealed, to run into the convenience store.
    It should be my choice and my discretion

  2. James McLynas on

    There is a Florida Carry open carry fishing event on April 6, 2019 at Tuscawilla park near Ocala starting at 10:00am

    Maybe some of you should go and show your support or even go and write a story about it

    Are you aware that Florida Fusion Center is sharing these events with law enforcement so that they will come hassle the open carry folks?

  3. How is fishing while armed in Florida “civil disobedience”? If it is time then where were all the 2A guys a couple of weeks ago when we marched through the capitol and went fishing downtown? Oh and actually caught a decent amount of fish. The local ranges and gun shops very publicly said we went “a bridge too far”. Until this thinking changes our rights will continue to erode.

  4. “If this involves more rallies and marches, so be it.”

    I am going to be the Charlie Contrary. Open Carry Fishing Fashion Shows are a waste of time. You affect a handful of people at most and does nothing for legislation.

    Instead of figuring out what color of sling goes with the flipflops, people should be paying attention to what is going on in Tallahassee. SB 1238 was in the Senate Judiciary Committee and our side only had the presence of Sheriff Wayne Ivey for the Florida Sheriffs Association and Marion Hammer for the NRA. Nobody else was there to support the bill.
    Moms Demand had a speaker and four supporters who filled appearance forms and recorded their opposition to the bill.

    That is shameful. No way in hell you are going to convince me that cannot find 4 or 5 gun owners in Tallahassee of surrounding areas to show up, fill a form and just say Yay or Nay.

    But fishing while sporting an AR across the chest does give you a bad ass reputation in Facebook.

  5. Thank you for all you have done. Open Carry isn’t for everyone but to bring awareness to the public that the law abiding citizens is not the problem. Open Carriers and Concealed Carriers need to come together and fight together. We open carry to show the public that the guns aren’t the issue in a law abiding citizens hands. Its the criminals and the ones that have some kind of mental illness that was over looked by the government. We also need to tell the government the 2nd Amendment is not going to Die on our watch. Dont Tread on US!!!!

  6. Here I think think, at least in the beginning of the article, Lee misses the point on open carry while fishing and hunting etc. First some common agreement. I agree with Lee on concealed carry being the superior option of being better tactically and having the element of surprise. After all if a bad guy is going to do harm, lets say robbing a grocery store, it would make sense for the criminal to shoot anyone he sees as a threat. This would be some guy or girl open carrying I would think. I also agree, that I would not want to get into a wrestling match with someone with and I have an open carry gun on my hip. Also, you are advertising to any thief that, “hey I keep guns in my house and in my car.” Lee’s 100% percent right here in my opinion.
    I think a point or two also gets missed in this article. Open carrying while fishing, camping, hiking is not really for a tactical purpose. Nor is it really about using it to advance our second amendment rights but that’s what it has been hijacked for.
    What it is for and I think very obvious, is to protect yourself when you are alone and isolated on on some trail or along some canal where help is not close by, cell service is often spotty and there is risk from wildlife (or people increasingly). In that situation having an open carry fire arm is preferable. This is because back in the wild places things can and often do happen very suddenly. Think about this as both a former Marine Infantryman and a cop we never carried our sidearm or rifle concealed. It was open and obvious. We were not concerned with a tactical surprise of a hidden gun. We wanted to be quick on the trigger. When you are in the middle of nowhere and do not have to worry much about the general population open carry is the superior option. I know this first hand. While fishing and hiking by myself and with the kids I cant tell you how many times a harmful snake popped out of the rocks on a canal bank or onto a trail. How many gators patrolled the water, and those were the ones you can see. Also, ask me about the wild hogs I could not see until me and the kids (age 12-9 ) basically stepped on and were not too happy about. Lucky they ran away from us the other way. I cant tell you how many animals I have jumped while hiking and hunting. (Side note, when hiking with the kids they know and have been instructed to walk a little behind me in case we flush something or get jumped by a critter. This is so I can have a safe shot if need be. It works by the way. With that pig I was upholstered and ready to rock in seconds. By the way we also carry pretty long walking sticks as a first line of defense.)
    n the field “open carry is superior.” Because of the isolation and risk it should be open to every Florida regardless of carry permit. If you spend enough time in the woods and on the water this is obvious.
    That said, people are talking the open carry law and using it to advance our second amendment rights. I agree with that but also I am cautious of misusing a very good law for another political purpose and to make a point. Finally, the situation in Miami was terrible. I’m pro-cop obviously but the cops pointing loaded guns (looks like Glocks) at people fishing because they are following the law should be dealt with. I’m talking cops being fired and a hefty monetary payment. The cops handling was overkill, bulling, illegal and highly dangerous.
    Criminals do not open carry, en masse, while fishing on a pier for some time while not otherwise acting in another suspicious way. To me those cops did not and do not have the temperament for the job. I’m telling you with all serious. Cop or not, leveling a gun at some law-abiding persons chest to make a point or figure out if a law was broken is not the way to handle things. Very scary situation.

  7. Awesome & brilliant. Just fantastic to read & learn. As a fishing enthusiast I really appreciate your thought. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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