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Adam Putnam sees “pathway” to open carry, campus carry

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Agriculture Commissioner and Republican candidate for governor Adam Putnam Tuesday said “there is absolutely a pathway” to bring back open carry and to permit what’s called “campus carry” in Florida.

“We have a track record of law-abiding citizens in Florida who submit their fingerprints, undergo background checks, and lawfully exercise their Second Amendment right,” he told reporters.

Putnam spoke at Tallahassee’s National Guard Armory at an event on his initiative to expedite applications for concealed weapon licenses (CWLs) from active-duty service members and veterans. He was joined by fellow Cabinet member and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who pulled out his wallet to show his license.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, through its Division of Licensing, oversees the issuance of such permits.

Open carry was repealed in 1987, the same year the state permitted concealed carry. Legislation to reinstitute it and to allow campus carry, allowing guns on Florida’s college campuses, has been filed but failed in recent years.

Though he didn’t offer his own specific proposal, Putnam said campuses and other “gun free zones, where victims have no opportunity to defend themselves, ought to be modified in a responsible way so that people can exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

The Legislature “has struggled with the right way to get there,” Putnam added. “But it is a proven fact that areas that are gun free zones tend to be an attractive target for people who would prey on victims who can’t shoot back.”

In late 2014, for example, a gunman opened fire inside Florida State University’s main library, shooting and injuring three people. Law enforcement arrived soon after and shot the gunman after he fired on them, killing him.

Putnam also noted “the number of students who have had an extraordinary amount of firearms training (and) are highly qualified, highly competent and safe … There is absolutely a way” to allow guns on campuses.

The state Supreme Court earlier this year upheld the open-carry ban after a constitutional challenge from a Fort Pierce man who had a concealed weapon license but was arrested after he carried his handgun openly on his hip.

Putnam said “there’s some interest” among Floridians he’s talked with over the years in again legalizing open carry, though “it varies.”

Also Tuesday, the Florida Democratic Party jabbed Putnam for what it called his “endorsement” of the National Rifle Association‘s “violent video ad.” (For more on that story, click here.)

“The NRA’s recruitment video … was meant to provoke fear and stoke the flames of division,” party spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said in a press release.

“The activists in Tampa Bay were right to denounce this video for what it is—a dangerous incitement of violence,” she said. “If Adam Putnam is endorsing this video, he’s encouraging violence against fellow Americans.”

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 [email protected]

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