Florida lawmakers’ promise to introduce legislation allowing permitless concealed carry of firearms, called “Constitutional Carry” by proponents, has been met. At a Monday morning press briefing, House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) and other gathered lawmakers announced House Bill 543, which would allow weapons and firearms without a license for concealment.
The proposed bill was written by Rep. Chuck Brannan (R-Lake City), with state Sen. Jay Collins (R-Tampa) writing the companion legislation for the Florida Senate. Gov. Ron DeSantis said in December that he was committed to the legislation passing and urged state lawmakers to propose it.
Under the proposed bill, Floridians would no longer need to apply for a license for concealed carry. The state of Florida already allows firearm purchases for those 21 and older without need of state application, aside from federal requirements for background checks.
Should the bill pass, the regulation of concealed carry permits, handled by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, would end.
HB 543’s text reads that a concealed weapon is “any dirk, metallic knuckles, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person.”
The bill’s provisions only allow for concealed carry of a firearm without permit, should it pass. Renner described the new legislation as important in an age of political division.
“What we’re about here today, is a universal right that applies to each and every man, woman, regardless of race, gender, creator, or background,” Renner said. “Florida led the nation in allowing for concealed carry, and that extends today as we remove the government permission slip to require a permit to exercise a constitutional right.”
Shortly before the announcement from Renner, the National Rifle Association praised the proposed legislation.
“Half of the country currently recognizes the fundamental right of law-abiding gun owners to carry a firearm for self-defense as enshrined in our Constitution,” Art Thomm, NRA Florida state director, said. “The NRA is proud to have led this effort across America and looks forward to welcoming Florida into the fold of freedom that constitutional carry provides.”
The NRA statement said that if the bill passes, it would add Florida to more than half of the U.S. that allows the right to carry concealed firearms without permits, calling it a “fundamental right” and thanking Gov. Ron DeSantis for his “steadfast leadership” on the removal of concealed carry permitting restrictions. Should it pass, Florida would become the 26th state to remove those permitting requirements.
As written, HB 543 does not allow felons or other Floridians who are blocked from possessing a firearm to carry one, or own one. It also allows nonresidents to have concealed weapons in the state if they meet the same requirements as Florida residents. Concealed weapons are still limited in certain locations.
The bill summary says that “provides a person authorized to carry concealed weapon or concealed firearm without license is subject to specified penalties for possessing such weapon or firearm at school-sponsored event or on school property.”
Provisions of the proposed legislation also would remove the need for citizens to have concealed carry permits, allowing them to have the firearm without having to pay a fee or get a certificate for carrying a firearm.
Brannan called the bill a removal of red tape and saying that “Florida will not come between you and your freedom to protect yourself,” about his legislation’s goal, saying it was historic.
In response to the legislation, on the other end of the political spectrum, Giffords Florida, a nonprofit that advocates for gun safety and restrictions, said the bill was “reckless” and would “allow almost anyone to carry a gun in public, without any training or background check.”
In statements posted to the organization’s Twitter account, they said “There is NOTHING safe about letting anyone and everyone carry loaded guns in crowded spaces, no questions asked” and that “Permitless carry means more guns in public spaces. It means fistfights would turn into gunfights.”
by: Sam Sachs