SANFORD, Florida. – Florida residents can now carry firearms without a permit in most places, as long as the guns are hidden and they are not criminals. However, some are still going beyond what is possible by exploiting a loophole in state laws to openly carry weapons.
A YouTube video filmed in Sanford a couple of years ago shows Michael Taylor, the so-called “Armed Fisherman”, walking down the street. He is armed with two pistols and a fishing rod.
“I have an AR rifle on my chest, or an AR rifle, or an AR pistol. I have a Glock 23 on my hip and a fishing rod and sometimes I wear a flag just to let people know I’m a patriot,” Taylor told FOX 35 News.
The cops surround him, answering a call someone made about him, but they eventually let him go.
The Sanford Police Department was reluctant to interview FOX 35, but says officers have since received additional training on the matter and that they will continue to respond to any calls for service from citizens concerned about their safety.
According to Florida law, you can open the carrier if you are going fishing.
Michael Taylor records similar videos across the state and posts them on YouTube. The situation has escalated before. One video he filmed in Miami Beach shows officers approaching him with drawn weapons. Taylor says he used to be a professional fisherman before learning about the law.
“Late one night I was fishing under a bridge and two guys attacked me and tried to rob me and my gun was in the car,” Taylor said.
Now he says his goal is to educate people about Florida’s gun laws. For now, this is something law enforcement should be working on.
“The problem for the officer is also that he doesn’t know if this person really has good intentions or not,” said Orlando Rolon, who used to be the police chief of the city of Orlando.
Rolon said that he had dealt with this sort of thing before, and over the years the officers had received more training on how to deal with it.
“I urge citizens who may not approve of this, if they want to make changes, report it and make changes to the legislation,” Rolon said.
Michael Taylor says he understands why people might feel embarrassed to see him armed, but for now, he’s going to keep carrying weapons.
“I really sympathize with people who are a little squeamish to see me like this,” Taylor said. “But I also want to say, you know, it’s the same with law enforcement. Do you know they are so afraid of law enforcement with guns?”
“We kindle the fire when people are just testing the system to see if they can or can’t get away with what they’re trying to prove,” Rolon said.