GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) --
A gun-rights group has released a message putting all Florida law enforcement agencies on notice to what they call a need for better training in how to deal with the lawfully armed public. We went to a Florida Carry event Saturday to get clarification of that notice.
The message is simple but direct; Florida Carry directors say too many times police are entering situations with lawfully armed persons with guns pointed at them even if they aren't suspected in any crimes.
Directors of Florida Carry say they released their message this week because of multiple circumstances in the past year where they believe citizens lawfully allowed to carry guns have had their rights violated.
Executive Director of Florida Carry Sean Caranna explained, "it just came to a point where we felt we had to do something because the situation has been growing dangerous. We have over the past few months to a year seen an increase in the level of adrenaline with police officers interacting with the lawfully armed public."
One example Caranna gave: Florida Carry is suing the city of Miami Beach because of a gathering with many members openly carrying guns which they say police aggressively shut down.
"We had notified the police department that we were going to be there and what the law was so there were no misunderstandings. They responded by sending officers out that charged the pier and our men at gunpoint, took them into custody, handcuffed them and drug them off the pier. Then they closed down the pier until all of our members left. They disrupted our first amendment protected activities and they pointed guns at people who weren't suspected of committing any crime."
Caranna says he wants more training for officers across the state on how to recognize who is legally allowed to carry a gun or not for the safety of the public and the officer themselves.
"We're seeing too often when a conversation starts with a gun being pointed in somebody face and that needs to stop before someone gets shot."
Florida Carry Director Jim Dykes says there are multiple ways to differentiate criminals with guns from lawful citizens with guns.
"We've learned from some research done by the Department of Justice, criminals don't openly carry firearms, they just don't because they're afraid they're going to get arrested. Criminals also almost never carry a firearm in a holster, so if you see a holstered firearm or an openly carried firearm the odds are very very high the person carrying it is carrying it legally."
The message sent to law enforcement across the state details more than 10 instances where Florida Carry directors say citizens' rights were violated. You can find the entire message attached to this article.
We reached out to both ACSO and GPD for comment, ACSO said they'll be happy to provide comment during the regular work week while GPD only said they might.