Gun owners exercise right to bear arms at Jax Pier

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- Packing heat and catching fish.

The the way some local gun owners assert their right to bear arms -- and it's completely legal.

Members of Florida Carry, a group that wants to preserve and expand gun rights, meet across the state to exercise their right to open carry while fishing, hunting or camping the second Saturday of every month.

At the Jacksonville Beach pier, there's plenty of packed heat.

"Most people go 'I didn't know you could do that,'" said Chuck Berlinghoff, a member of Open Carry and active participant in Second Saturday.

It's a right guaranteed by Florida law and one that Florida Carry members want to educate the public about.

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Critics, including some off the record law enforcement officers, say the demonstration can make citizens feel uneasy, particularly if someone is openly carrying a gun on a bus or riding a motorcycle down the highway. The law says that it's perfectly legal as long as you are on your way to fish, hunt or camp.

Jeff Gray says he exercises the law to educate others but he doesn't always have positive encounters with law enforcement.

"Some counties I go to, they are not knowledgeable about the law and wind up detaining me and drawing guns on me and searching me, seizing my property," said Gray.

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Gray records his encounters with law enforcement. While some law enforcement officials say he baits officers, Gray calls it a Second Amendment test.

"The cops come up and ask what are you doing, 'you know I'm fishing and hunting', ok cool that's you're right have a good day," said Gray describing the positive encounters he's had with law enforcement. "So I didn't bait them into knowing the law and protecting my rights, so I didn't bait the officers that didn't know the law into violating my rights."

The group says they don't get a lot of attention while open carrying just reactions from the curious.

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"They have said ;what are you afraid of? What do you have a gun for?' And I jokingly tell them with the gun I'm not afraid of anything," said Berlinghoff.

The group says their goal is to exercise their rights and preserve them

"I like my guns, I've been around guns my whole life, they're nothing more than a machine and I truly fear we could lose that right,' added Berlinghoff.


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