Gun Guns

Locked And Loaded: Concealed Carry Gun Law Awaiting Florida Gov. DeSantis Signature

Gun Guns
Handgun and Ammo (Source: Unsplash)

Florida, long dubbed the “gunshine state,” is one stroke of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pen away from allowing people to carry guns without concealed weapons licenses.

The Senate on Thursday gave final approval to a measure (HB 543) that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without having to meet requirements such as firearms training and background screening. The House approved the bill last week, and DeSantis has pledged to sign it.

Sen. Jay Collins, a Tampa Republican who sponsored the measure, echoed many supporters in saying that it is designed to prevent Floridians from having to get a “permission slip” to carry guns.

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“What this bill does is remove the need for that government permit, that permission slip, to carry a concealed weapon,” Collins said just before the Republican-dominated Senate signed off on the bill.

But Democrats have slammed the bill as having the potential to make Floridians less safe. Sen. Victor Torres, D-Orlando, drew on his experience as a former police officer in pushing against the removal of the training requirements.

“As a former law-enforcement (officer) for 20 years in New York City, I had the privilege of carrying a weapon on me, a gun,” Torres said. “But I was trained, over and over and over and over and over. Why? The safety of the public.”

The gun law measure also cleared the Senate just days after a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee in which three children and three adults were killed. Some Democrats on Thursday criticized the measure as running counter to “progress” that lawmakers made on gun policies after the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

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“Why we are going in the opposite direction from the progress we made after the tragedy of Parkland is beyond me,” Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, said.

But several Republican senators touted parts of the bill that seek to bolster school-safety, including a provision that would allow private schools to participate in a controversial program that allows armed “guardians” on campuses.

The bill also would provide money for school hardening.

Many supporters labeled the measure a “constitutional carry” bill, in reference to Second Amendment constitutional rights. But as the bill has moved through the legislative process, a debate simmered about whether the “constitutional carry” label is a good fit for the proposal — with some gun-rights advocates arguing it was a misnomer.

“This bill is a half-measure and is not what gun owners were promised. It isn’t true constitutional carry because it doesn’t include an open carry provision. This bill is weak and failed leadership on part of Gov. DeSantis and the Republican legislative leadership. Gun owners deserve better,” Matt Collins, a former gun lobbyist who lives in Central Florida, said in a statement.

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