The Florida Senate gave final passage to a bill Thursday that would allow people to carry a concealed weapon in public without a government-issued permit, a top priority for Gov. Ronald DeSantis
The statute would also end the state’s requirement to have a firearm before carrying a concealed weapon outside the home. Applicants for a permit must now demonstrate competency with a firearm by receiving firearm safety or training. The permit application process also includes a group check, which will also no longer be required if the request is signed into law.
The hearing release notes the legislation would “leave in place the current licensing and screening process,” so that anyone seeking a license for reciprocal or other purposes may freely do so.
DeSantis said he was proud to “support the second amendment” at a recent event on his book tour and confirmed his commitment when he signed the mission to his desk. “You don’t need a license slip from the government to exercise your constitutional rights,” DeSantis said Thursday.
If signed, the bill would go into effect on July 1, making Florida the 26th state to allow carry. The bill passed before the Florida House last week.
Since July 1, 2022, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has they rejected 4,134 applications because it allows that the petitioner was considered ineligible. The bill does not change who is eligible to carry a firearm in public. Additionally, it is still necessary to obtain a group permit to purchase a gun.
As of last month, the state has allowed more than 2.6 million concealed weapons.
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Chuck Brannan said Floridians should be able to carry their guns without “interference or local government preemption.”
“In the state of Florida, government bureaucracy will no longer stand between law-abiding Floridians and their freedom to exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Brannan said in a statement. “This bill recognizes that while the government must protect its citizens, citizens have the right to protect themselves.”
While Democrats and gun-control advocates criticized DeSantis for removing one of the few restrictions on guns in the state, gun rights activists said the measure did not go far enough. They want Florida to allow people to carry guns in the open in public and for the state to eliminate gun-free zones. In Florida, it is now illegal to carry a firearm to school or on a college campus.
“The title of ‘constitutional carry’ for this bill is a lie,” Luis Valdes, director of Florida Gunnery Owners of America, said at a recent committee hearing on the bill.
DeSantis publicly supports open carry but has refused to use enough political capital to get lawmakers to pass less restrictive gun policies, as he has with other priorities. State Rep. Mike Beltran, a Republican, submitted but pulled an amendment that would have allowed him to carry openly after Republican legislative leaders voiced their opposition.
“If they send me something that’s 90% or 80%, that’s it, I’m going to take it and win it and come back at some point in the future,” DeSantis said at the event in Georgia.
Critics of the legislation have publicly opposed the development of gun rights, calling it “dangerous” and talking about passing the bill in the wake of the shooting in Nashville that killed three children and three adults at a Christian school.
Republican Sen. Shevrin Jones tweeted: “The guns are killing our children and tearing our families apart. Do not book, do not drag queens, do not even wake up, guns! Even with the loss of these precious lives, the FL legislature will ALWAYS carry the bill with their permits. It’s a damn shame. ”