Arrested and Prosecuted for Accidental Exposure of Lawfully Carried Handgun

Dale Norman has a valid Florida Concealed Carry License but was arrested on February 19th, 2012 by the Fort Pierce, FL Police Dept. while otherwise lawfully carrying a handgun because it accidentally became exposed.

He is currently being prosecuted despite assurances made to the Florida Legislature in 2011 that police, prosecutors and Sheriffs would stop harassing people with concealed carry licenses for innocent accidental exposure of their handguns.

Dale was forced to the ground, a knee put in to his back, cuffed, booked, made to spend the night in jail, and is still (as of June 4th) being actively prosecuted for the criminal offence of carrying an unconcealed handgun all because his shirt got caught behind his holster while he was walking.

Florida and only 5 other state still make it a crime to carry an unconcealed handgun.  Most states don’t even require a license unless you conceal your handgun but Florida completely bans unconcealed or “open” carry even if you have a license to carry.

*** Update ***
Mr. Norman was found guilty of violating Florida’s Ban on Unconcealed Carry by a jury.  He has not been convicted though.  The Judge will be hearing motions to dismiss the case on July 31st, 2012.  Multiple motions challenge the ban on constitutional grounds.  More to follow.
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39 Responses to Arrested and Prosecuted for Accidental Exposure of Lawfully Carried Handgun

  1. John says:

    Did anyone actually believe that local “authorities” were going to roll over and play dead just because the state legislature told said so?

  2. Sean Caranna says:

    His CWFL had been issued only 5 days earlier. I’ll assume 3 days of that in the mail…

  3. Jeff Knox says:

    I think to say that the gun became accidentally exposed is a stretch. He’s wearing a tight tank-top and had the gun in a low-slung belt holster…
    I think this guy just didn’t know the law.
    I highly doubt that a clean-cut white guy would have been face-planted into the sidewalk that way. Where is the outrage from Rev. Al?
    Notice how the cop cuffed him? He simply told him to put his hands behind his back. If he had any concern at all, he never would have let the guy put his hand anywhere near the gun without at least holding his wrist as it went back. To reward the guy’s obvious cooperation with a sidewalk face-plant was a punitive action on the part of the cop.
    Florida needs to catch up with the rest of the country regarding open carry. The question to ask the Sheriff’s Association and other police groups is why they think Florida citizens are less responsible and trustworthy, and why they think Florida police officers are less intelligent and discerning, than the people and police in 43 or 44 other states? The evidence is out there. The safety of open carry has been proven in almost every state. Police and politicians who oppose open carry – particularly for CCW holders – are demonstrating unfounded, irrational fear and they are insulting the citizens or the line officers, or both.

  4. Sean Caranna says:

    This is going to jury selection on Thursday

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  6. Armed Partisan says:

    He is black and this is Fort Pierce. My father lives in Ft. Pierce, and he says it’s redneck city. The guy should have picked more responsible clothing since he was heeled (and a wife beater is underwear) but that is to avoid being harassed, not arrested. They shouldn’t be able to do anything but give you a warning. If you get two warnings, you should lose your CCW permit on the third event, not go to prison. Maybe he could afford a decent holster and cover garment if he didn’t have to spend nearly $200 to get the permit?

  7. BobS says:

    This is the same game plan the cops pursued when we got ‘secured’ carry in vehicles. The local cops in Tampa/St Pete didn’t like the law and arrested people ‘just because the could’, forcing people to spend their hard earned cash on lawyers to defend themselves in court for exercising their rights, while the cops got overtime to show up. The legislature finally had to get real specific in the law in order to force the cops to comply with the intent. And even then they still occasionally mess with people because qualified immunity allows them to break the law with impunity.

    The ‘authoratah’ doesn’t like it when his discretion to harass gets messed with.

  8. Erik Asher says:

    I hope Florida Carry will sue the pants off of the city and PD over this violation.

    • Sean Caranna says:

      We can’t sue them, they didn’t break the law. We need to repeal Florida’s Open Carry Ban.

      • Sean,

        I’m former law enforcement and that takedown was a little “exuberant” to say the least. The CHL-holder offered zero resistance, kept his hands in plain view at ALL times and complied to the utmost of his ability.

        I can also understand that (idiot) Florida sheriff on the second video having concerns, but he is also another obvious heavy-handed asshat hiding behind a badge given his language, body language and gestures in regards to “law enforcement WILL draw down.”

        What law enforcement better understand is that there is less than half-a-million of them, and over 100 million of us (law-abiding gun-owners). As I blogged the other day, we’re getting fed up with being pushed around and the time is drawing closer to where we might just start pushing back.

        –AOA

    • arnold says:

      as a retired law enforcement officer I am ashamed of these police officers and agree with you 100% and these officer should be brought up on charges and fired, there was no reason to put this man on the ground and cuff him he was cooperating with the officers the whole time never making any kind of aggressive movement toward the officers. I retired after 29 years of experience.

  9. Iceman99 says:

    What is govorner Scott saying about all this????

  10. floridalee says:

    With all due respect to the concept of open carry, If I had been on the street and seen a black dressed like this gentleman carrying an exposed weapon, I would be alarmed as well.
    I mean, look at him. He looks and is dressed like someone who might cause trouble. So why is anyone surprised that the police took him down? Hell, I would have done the same thing if I was an officer and on the call.
    In my opinion, this is just another instance of blacks thinking the normal rules don’t apply to them. I think we will find that in this case he was not just inadvertently exposing his weapon, or the victim of poor wardrobe choices, but instead flaunting it so show off to his neighbors. Which, I am sorry to inform you, is the kind of behavior you can expect from black in today’s environment.
    This idiot is just what the concealed carry and open carry movements do not need.
    I’m glad he was busted.

    • Sean Caranna says:

      Wow. That may be the most prejudiced thing I have read in years.

      prej·u·dice/ˈprejədəs/
      Noun:
      Preconceived opinion not based on reason.

    • So, only blacks let their lawfully concealed weapons occasionally show, and whites never have their shirts blow open?

      I’ll be sure and let my old swim-buddy from the military and my first partner in law enforcement, both of whom were and still are black, that this is “the kind of behavior they can expect from black (sic) in today’s environment.”

      No problem with the cops stopping the guy and even detaining/restraining him. But it should’ve ended there. Period. What’s more, this guy offered zero resistance or hostility to the cops and did nothing to deserve getting slam-dunked to the concrete.

      I’d like to see YOUR dumb ass put in the same situation sometime and see how you respond to having been treated like that.

      –AOA

    • arnold says:

      criminals do not open carry their firearms and they do not obey gun laws and do not go through background checks to get a carry permit. The way he was dress or whether he was black or white he made no aggressive actions toward the officers instead he was very calm and cooperated with the officers 100% I am a retired law enforcement with 29 years on the job and these officers had no reason to put this on the ground and cuff him

  11. Mark says:

    Education here is not only key, but essential in order for this kind of incident not to happen. There should be well qualified instructors that teach the CWP courses with a heavy emphasis on the Florida Statutes that cover your rights under the law. I do not believe in dumbing down the education as that only leads to more stupidity on the street and gives all of us a real bad reputation. Even though I have a CWP, I am very mindful not to carry my weapon if it even “telegraphs” through the clothing I am wearing. This is not only an inconvenience but also renders my firearm useless if I do not have it with me. I have brought this up to off duty law enforcement officers that are paid instructors at the range and even with their tips and my demonstration of their tips, they agree I have a delemma. I do not have a “gut” that could possibly assist in concealment with my shirt untucked so there in lies the issue. I the case of this individual, the worse that he could be accused of should be lack of knowledge, and judgment. In which case at the very least he should be educated and tested before he gets his weapon back. Again EDUCATION IS THE ESSENTIAL KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE LAW AND OUR RIGHTS!

    • Sean Caranna says:

      The problem is that the prosecutor is actually refusing to negotiate a plea. They want to put him in jail for this!

      • Mark says:

        In that regard then it is the defending attorney that needs to make the case that his client is a law abiding citizen that made a really bad choice of clothing for concealment. I doubt that he will have a snowballs chance in Miami of avoiding jail time due to his negligence of concealing his weapon. Hopefully, his co-operation with the police might make a difference, but I suspect he can kiss his CWP goodbye.

  12. Robert says:

    This guy is a complete Idiot!!! This isn’t a racial issue. It’s very simple. It’s clear on the dashboard cam of the ploice car that the individual was not wearing a belt, and if he was PEOPLE!!! The LAw is the law!! It’s called a “CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMIT”. Which means CONCEALED AT ALL TIMES!!!. This guy is the typical wear your shorts without a belt guy and show the underwear, which is by law indecent exposure. and he decided to have a gun in a holster but in didnt help him not wearing a belt!!. From what I see on the video, is that some civilian saw him walking down the street and (Lets forget that hes a African American people) He simply did not wear the holster properly… I have had my Concealed firearm license for twenty years now and I have been everywhere and never EVER had a problem. I’ve been to Malls, parks, etc,,, But one thing for sure is that I make sure that i HAVE MY GUN IN A HOLSTER AND CONCEALED AT ALLLL TIMES!!! he will learn from his mistakes for this one!!! Live and learn as my father would say…….

    • Sean Caranna says:

      But should he go to jail for it?

      • Mark says:

        Robert,
        You make an excellent point that this guy did not make certain his weapon was concealed. Yes it was stupid. I too know full well that if I carried and did not take the appropriate precaution on how well my weapon is concealed that I should expect L.E. to approach me in an offensive manor.
        The one detail that I did not hear coming from the guy stopped was his informing the officers of his CWP. My understanding of the law is that even when driving, if you are stopped it is your responsiblity to inform the officer that you have the permit and the weapon either with you or on you. That said, the officer would already know that the second after he ran your plate number. So what does that say about the any possible CWP course he may have taken?
        However, I digress; as dumb as this move was on the choice of attire worn and not properly concealing his weapon, he should be reprimanded, given an appearance ticket, and let go. Not jailed. The judge then would have the discretion to either revoke his permit, or re-take mandatory CWP course followed up with a written test to be presented to the presiding judge or county clerk. That should be enough. If he violates again then that is another issue. Old adage: “If you know better you can do better”.

        • BCDREM says:

          In Florida there is no duty to inform. There is much debate on the topic but in this case if he had any idea that they knew he had a gun he should stated that he has a permit. Furthermore, unless something has changed very recently your permit is not tied to your DL or registration. The program is administered by the department of agriculture for that reason.

          Poor choice of cover garment, not worthy of jail time. Could be any of us at one time or another if you carry long enough. [By that I mean accidental exposure. In my decade of CCW it has happened maybe twice.]

        • Jeff says:

          Mark
          I think only 3 states require that you notify a LEO that you are carrying of which Florida is not one. I would never verbalize the word “gun” in an encounter as the hot head rookie might over react. If you would feel more comfortable hand the officer your CCW permit. Other than that KYBMS. :)

  13. Steve says:

    The problem is that he is going to be tried, even though he has a concealed license. I don’t care if he’s white, black or green. I had a CWP for 6 years, let it expire, along with my FFL. The powers that be, actually wanted a map of my home, with the location of my guns, windows and doors clearly marked. Yea right “A” holes. “COME AND GET EM” but you’d better bring a LOT of help!

  14. John King says:

    Looking at the police video, what I see looks like this man was walking down the street and the poilce just wanted to stop this man.1.Because he is black and the way he is wearing his clothing which would be expected from Fort Pierce Police and the good old boys, and 2.what I saw on video was that he complyed with the officers,if youlistion to the audio I don’t hear anything from the officers in reguards to this incident to thier dispatcher and 4. I did’nt see or hear where the officers asked if the man had/has a concealed weapons permit, they just arrested him and put him in the police car. This case should be droped and the man should be given a warning about his attier and that he needs to make sure that his firearm stays concealed or this could happen again. I live In Stuart,FL and I know how the police act,but in this case both parties are some what at falt here. The man and his attier,and the police for not asking if he has/had a concealed permit to carry his firearm. Also the police video clearly shows that this man, shows no threatning action to anyone on the street.

  15. tony says:

    I am thinking it is about time for an open carry fishing event at the jetty park in Ft Pierce.

  16. Bill Butler says:

    An inadvertent exposure of a concealed weapon or firearm. The key here is the word, “INADVERTENT” or an accidental exposure such as raising your arms to get the top shelf can of beans in the Super Market. From the video we see this man walking down a public street with the firearm holster in clear view for quite a long period of time. That is not what the new law was supposed to prevent which is a temporary exposure of a concealed weapon or firearm. Now should this man be jailed? No. I do think however his license should be held until he shows proof that he attended a class about how to properly carry a weapon or firearm in a concealed manner. If you are going to wear your pants loose and they will drop several inches below your waist I would think to carry at waist level would not be a good choice. Maybe a shoulder harness or get a tighter belt. He was wrong but he was respectful of the officers. After the Zimmerman/Trayvon situation I would think the LEO professionals would want to help ensure there is no effort to single out a black man that was ignorant of the wrong he was committing. If he had served in the military and had a DD214 he did not take a class and that could be proof that the people who were in the military were not taught about concealed carry? I am a 100% disabled Vietnam Vet and I always showed my rifle when in country. I never did have a class of how to conceal carry a firearm. If he did attend a class and the class followed the procedures and the training required then this man was asleep during the class. I really would like to say the guy was right but I cannot do that without lying to myself and fellow Florida Licensed concealed carry people. All this said, Ft. Pierce, you have to admit it looks bad, one black guy and all those white officers. I get their need to be on the money to protect the public. This guy is the public and he made a fear inducing incident mistake. Dumb and stupid? Yeah I think so. Deserving of jail time/prison time? Look if he was issued a license by the state of Florida to conceal carry a weapon or firearm he passed one heck of a background check. Do we really want to send this guy to prison? Come on prosecutor, get real. We are US Citizens, not your subjects oh king almighty. Get the point yet?

  17. Jeff says:

    Sean, will you be involved in this case?

  18. Tom says:

    I agree with mark.

  19. Tom says:

    I agree with Mark. It’s an education and training issue. Two hours is not enough time for adequate training on this topic. I once saw a girl at my local ATM, dressed very well I might add, openly carrying her Glock on her belt. No badge or other ID to show she was law enforcement or any other person allowed to open carry. She was so proud standing there with her gun. It was quite obvious she had taken a short course somewhere and got bad training or incomplete training. Many of these classes don’t cover open carry, much less accidentally exposing your gun and how to avoid it and ensuring that you are aware, every moment, of where your gun is and what condition it’s in. Florida needs to require, at a minimum, a 4+ hour NRA FIRST Steps course, if not more, in addition to time spent covering the statutes. The sad thing is that in these short courses, 90 minutes is spent on the statutes and FL doesn’t require them to be taught by a qualified person. All they require is documentation of safely handling and discharging a firearm. That can be done (not very well, but can be done…) in 10 minutes. There is no mandatory written exam, no required accuracy standard for live fire, and no set of specific info that FL might consider a standard that everyone should know about concealed carry. Firing one round of Aguila Colibri is not enough and doesn’t meet the state statute requirement for live fire. The current statutes indicates that accidentally exposing the gun because the wind blew the shirt open for a couple of seconds is okay… but if he was walking around for minutes or hours with the gun exposed openly, then this guy is not covered by the statute. Open carry is a double edged sword. Why open carry and give away your tactical advantage as well as risk having someone come up from behind you and rob you of your gun? Concealed carry gives you a tactical advantage and keeps other from knowing who to shoot first as well as not making you an easy target for having your gun stolen out of your holster. (I’m not a strong believer in SERPA holsters by the way…). Yes, gun ownership is a right and carrying should be a right, not a privilege, but in either case, those rights and privileges also carry a responsibility .. or two…

  20. Jeff says:

    I have noticed the “currently being prosecuted” link generates an error page and Dale Norman does not come up in a Public Search. Can anyone offer any insight?

  21. Patrick says:

    I thought this got fixed last session?

    As long as it is non-threatening, the “inadvertent” OC is not an issue, and that under other Florida law the prosecution should fail?

    His mistake was carrying in a way to draw attention. It was not a true CC, but there was nothing threatening about it. I don’t agree with the CC-only thing, but seriously this should be worth nothing more than a $25 civil fine.

    I think this case is only going to embolden Open Carry in FL. It is further proof that the law does not protect non-threatening exposure of lawfully owned and managed firearms. It is proof that the legislature needs to go further, as in a complete prohibition on prosecution for exposure of a firearm in non-threatening ways, incidental or intentional. And we’ll need to specify what is not “threatening”, as well, because the LuluLemon crowd in West Palm Beach find anything firearms-related “threatening” by its mere existence.

  22. Jim says:

    “…actively prosecuted for the criminal offence of carrying an unconcealed handgun all because his shirt got caught behind his holster while he was walking.”

    Sean, did you even watch the video? His shirt wasn’t caught on anything but his shoulders.

    Frankly, I didn’t see a gun, I saw a holster, but there certainly wasn’t any effort made to conceal it. I’m guessing if he took a class, it was one of those discount, 3 minute classes that don’t bother to even teach numb nuts how to go find and read the laws they are required to abide by.

    But hey, this is getting your blog a lot of attention, calling attention to something that is best left quiet, as the media has done. But thanks, for bringing this to the attention of gun rights haters across the country. ;)

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