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Pam Bondi won’t opine on firefighter open carry question

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Attorney General Pam Bondi has declined to weigh in on whether local police chiefs can “direct or permit firefighters in emergency situations to openly carry firearms.”

Crestview Police Chief Tony R. Taylor had asked for a legal opinion from Bondi’s office.

In an Aug. 9 informal opinion, a copy of which was released Tuesday, Senior Assistant Attorney General Gerry Hammond told Taylor “it does not appear that this is a matter upon which this office will comment.”

“As it is unclear that a municipal police chief has any statutory authority to direct firefighters in the performance of their duties, no comment will be expressed on this matter,” the letter said.

“(Y)ou may wish to consider whether a mutual aid agreement between law enforcement agencies may better meet your needs in planning to respond to emergency situations,” it added.

“I regret that this office could not be of more direct assistance to you in this matter, but trust you will understand that our inability to comment is the result of statutory limitations, not a lack of concern,” the letter said.

Taylor couldn’t be reached Tuesday afternoon.

Open carry has been in the news this year.

The House passed a bill this legislative session that generally would have allowed those with a concealed weapon permit to carry openly, but the Senate did not take up the measure.

Separately, the Florida Supreme Court has not yet ruled in a case that could uphold or overturn Florida’s ban on openly carrying a firearm.

Gun-rights activist Eric Friday says the ban should be stricken because it “infringe(s) on the fundamental individual rights of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, and the state.”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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