Law Review: Pulse Nightclub Was Not A Gun-Free Zone

To all my friends, students of politics or the law, and attorneys. I urge you to take a look and decide for yourself the meaning of this certain statute. After extensive research and what I believe to be disinformation, I believe the meaning is being distorted in the media and as a paradigm of the society.

Florida Title XLVI Chapter 790

Section (12)(a) tells concealed carry license holders that “A license issued under this section does not authorize any person to openly carry a handgun or carry a concealed weapon or firearm into: Any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose.

Now many people believe that this means you are not allowed to conceal and carry a firearm into any bar/club in the state of Florida for any reason. I have seen article after article, Fox News show host after Fox News show host, talk about how the events in Orlando could have been stopped, if only Florida law had allowed gun owners to carry in bars/clubs citing that the problem was the gun-free zone. Well I’m here to offer another contrasting idea. What if Pulse Nightclub wasn’t a gun-free zone all along?

Rewind to a month ago, a week or so after the attacks in Orlando. I was talking with a friend of mine who is an attorney while we were at a bar. We were in Downtown Orlando as I walked in to meet him. As I greeted him I said something to the effect of, “let’s get a drink” as I headed for the bar. He lightly grabbed me and said that he couldn’t, that he had a table away from the bar for us instead. To be honest I was a little weirded out. I thought maybe he had had a fight with the bartender or the TV was too loud or something. He alerted me that he was carrying a firearm and that Florida law permits him to carry it everywhere but the actual bar part of the establishment. I had never heard this before, but knowing my friend as a damn good attorney, I decided to double check. I pulled up the statute on my phone and realized that something was a little murky.**SIDE NOTE**(Many these laws need to be rewritten. From City Ordinances to the Constitution. They are chock full of confusing legalese and many use outdated and sophisticated language that does not serve the common man but only the bourgeoisie. For example, the reason why there is a debate over the 2nd Amendment is because the language can be interpreted so many ways. That’s why we should go back to find the original intent and rewrite it in today’s language. Something sorta like “Don’t touch my guns!”… Okay rant over. )

Okay so let’s hash this out. If Statute XLVI Chapter 790 ended after first clause of the sentence, I would believe that everyone else was correct, namely that my buddy was illegally carrying a firearm in a portion of an establishment who’s licensed to sell alcohol. But looking at the second clause, I now believe there is a complete misunderstanding of the statute. Looking at the second clause of the statute as something that clarifies the first, I think ” which portion of the establishment” can only mean the actual bar.

“Any portion of an establishment licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises..”

This HAS to mean only the actual bar itself, because anyone in the restaurant business knows you need a license for each separate bar you put in a restaurant, pub, or tavern. If this meant anywhere that sold alcohol, this would include Cici’s Pizza, Chipotle, Moe’s, Red Robin and pretty much every restaurant in the state. If the statute ended here, I would believe that was the intent, but it continues:

“which portion of the establishment is primarily devoted to such purpose.”

The bar is the only “portion” of a restaurant or bar that is primarily devoted to such a purpose. I have had people tell me their interpretation is that you can only carry in establishments where less than 50% of their revenue comes from alcohol. Excuse me, what? You’re telling me that it is now the job of the citizen to inquire about food and beverage sales at every establishment before they enter?  How ridiculous. Ipso facto, according to my new understanding, the only place that you cannot conceal and carry a firearm in restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, and taverns is while sitting or standing at the actual bar.

This means that any one of the people in Pulse Nightclub on the night of June 12, 2016 could have been concealed carrying and could have potentially stopped Omar Mateen as he spread horrific carnage throughout the landscape. As a citizen of Florida this deeply troubles me. What if the idea that you can’t carry in bars/ clubs is wrong? What if Florida lawmakers actually understood that the only thing to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun? To all those reading this in Florida, the US, and the world..what say you?

  • Gutmacher is widely considered the expert on Florida firearms laws, and his opinion is that it isn’t legal to carry into clubs.