Palm Beach Police Chief Nicholas Caristo has called on Florida lawmakers to make a change to the state’s open carry law and make certain public sites gun-free.
However, a group of advocates with Florida Carry are against that proposal and held a rally on one of Palm Beach County’s most visible spots on Saturday.
The group marched from downtown West Palm Beach to the Royal Park Bridge to Palm Beach to demonstrate the statute which allows people to open carry while fishing, hunting, or camping or heading to or from those activities.
It’s in response to a letter written by Chief Caristo to Senator Bobby Powell asking the state legislature to amendment that would prohibit anyone from openly carrying their gun while on the way to or from or while hunting, fishing, or camping, if it's within 1500 feet of a school, church, government building, or guarded beach.
Michael Taylor, a member of Florida Carry and Port St. Lucie resident, says he is vulnerable when fishing before dawn and after dusk. He added that the state law is vital for his safety.
“I was robbed underneath a bridge and I was unable to defend myself with anything other than my fishing pole. Ever since that day I’ve open carried to protect myself,” said Taylor.
The Palm Beach Police Department posted an alert ahead of the demonstration and monitored the rally throughout the afternoon.
The department explained its position on the matter in a previous statement:
"Our intention is not to infringe on the lawful rights of gun owners. We are solely asking gun owners to be responsible and not openly carry in the area of Schools, Houses of Worship, Government Buildings and crowded beaches. With recent events, including the shooting in Duncan, Oklahoma today, we are asking gun owners to not intentionally place people in fear. Despite a retaliatory e-mail from Florida Carry, Chief Caristo stands firm on his commitment to protect the community."
Florida Carry has another event scheduled in Ocala in February.