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West Palm leaders worried about open carry bill

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jan 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-07 18:35:32-05

The West Palm Beach Police Chief says an open carry bill that would allow Floridians to openly carry guns would be terrible for law enforcement.

"An openly armed person may or may not have bad intentions. But the officer does not know that, and it becomes a stressor and a distraction," Chief Bryan Kummerlen said

Kummerlen along with other city leaders held a press conference Thursday under the leadership of State Representative Dave Kerner.

Kerner says he is become increasingly concerned as House Bill 163 has continued to gain traction.

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio is also worried.

"Is there anyone who thinks this is the right time to make it more difficult for our police to protect us? I'm not against gun ownership. I am against illegal and irresponsbile gun ownership," Muoio said.

But there are supporters.

Employee Blaise Uriarte at Guns and Range Gun Shop near downtown West Palm Beach says he believes all Americans should have the right to openly carry.

"I see no problem with someone reasonably open and carrying in the general public. I think it would be a deterrent for theft and all around not impact most people's lives," Uriarte said.

But Uriarte's boss, the owner of the store Alex Shkop, disagrees.

"I think it will bring an unnecessary feeling of aggression that is uncalled for," Shkop said.

If the bill passes the Florida House and Senate, it could be come law by the end of the year.

Business owners would have the right to not allow people onto their property who are openly carrying guns.