Top Florida Republicans are making a push for the state to become the 26th in the country to allow the right to carry a concealed firearm without a government-issued permit.
On Monday, Florida House Speaker Paul Renner outlined a bill that would enact what supporters call “constitutional carry” measures, meaning they don’t require a permit to carry a concealed firearm.
Despite previous legislation of the same ilk becoming bogged down by Florida’s legislature in the past, Renner now commands a supermajority at the state level, touting bill sponsorships from State Rep. Chuck Brannan and State Sen. Jay Collins.
The concept behind the bill also has the support of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo.
The proposed legislation would have a sizable impact on the sunshine state, including changes to allow any Florida resident who legally owns a firearm to carry it in public, visibly or concealed, at almost any time or place, without training, registration, or government licensing.
However, the proposed legislation would not:
- Change current state laws for buying a gun
- Alter any age, criminal history, location, or residency restrictions
- Forego federal laws banning firearms from federally controlled locations
- Allow open carry
In 2021, Texas approved a similar“open carry” law that allows most gun owners 21 and over to carry a handgun in a holster without a permit. Texas law differs by allowing firearms to be carried without concealment.
The National Rifle Association quickly applauded Florida’s proposed bill, with NRA state director Art Thomm saying in a statement that the organization “looks forward to welcoming Florida into the fold of freedom that constitutional carry provides.”
At the introductory press conference announcing the legislation, Renner, along with Hernando County Sheriff and president of the Florida Sheriffs Association Al Nienhuis, endorsed the proposal.
“I think we can assume that our citizens are going to do the right thing when it comes to carrying and bearing arms,” Nienhuis told reporters.
Shortly after Renner’s press conference, Democrats blasted the bill that they say will flood the state with gun owners who are not properly trained.
“We are united in opposition to this policy proposal,” said Rep. Christine Hunschofsky of Parkland, Florida, whose district includes the scene of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass school shooting that left 17 people dead.
Florida has a long and complicated history with gun violence, including the 2016 Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando which killed more than 40 people and is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in American history.
Survivors of the shooting have called for the state to enact stricter gun laws for years, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears.
One survivor told the Tampa Bay Times that it didn’t “make sense” for gun owners to require so little training, while a wide array of professions with less lethal aspects do not.
“We’re talking about real people whose lives are being cut short every single day in this country because of our obsession with easy access to guns,” Brandon Wolf told the Times.