SANFORD, Fla. - Floridians can now carry a firearm without a permit in most places, as long as the weapon is concealed and they’re not a felon. However, some are still pushing the envelope, using a loophole in state law to carry guns out in the open.
A YouTube video shot in Sanford a couple of years ago shows Michael Taylor, the so-called "Armed Fisherman," walking down the street. He’s armed with two guns and a fishing pole.
"I have an AR, either AR rifle or AR pistol across my chest. I have a Glock 23 on my hip and a fishing pole, and sometimes I carry a flag just to let people know I'm a patriotic guy," Taylor told FOX 35 News.
He gets surrounded by police officers responding to a call someone made about him, but they eventually let him go.
The Sanford Police Department didn’t want to have an interview with FOX 35 but says since then officers have received additional training on the matter and that they’ll continue to respond to any calls for service from citizens concerned about their safety.
According to Florida law, you can open carry if you’re on your way to go fishing.
Michael Taylor records similar videos all over the state and posts them to YouTube. Things have gotten tense before. In one video he made in Miami Beach, you can see officers approach him with their weapons drawn. Taylor says he used to be a professional fisherman before he learned about this law.
"One day, I was fishing late at night under a bridge and two guys walked down on 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 gun laws. For now, it’s something law enforcement has to work around.
"The challenge for the officer is also the unknown, not knowing whether this person actually has good intentions or not," said Orlando Rolon, who used to be the City of Orlando’s police chief.
Rolon said he’s had to deal with that sort of thing before, and officers have had more training over the years on how to deal with it.
"I strongly urge citizens who may not approve of this that if they want to bring about change, to make it known and have legislation changed," Rolon said.
Michael Taylor says he does understand why people might get uncomfortable seeing him armed, but for now, he’s going to continue carrying.
"I do feel for the people that are a little squeamish to see me like that," Taylor said. "But I also want to say, you know, same thing with law enforcement. You know, are they so scared of law enforcement carrying their guns?"
"We’re fueling the fire when individuals are just testing the system to see if they can or cannot get away with something that they’re trying to prove," Rolon said.