Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 543 into law, allowing permitless carry of a concealed handgun by law-abiding citizens. Florida is now the 26th state to adopt permitless carry.
The bill moved relatively quickly through the system, being introduced at the end of January, passing through committee in February, and then through both Florida House and Senate votes in March, before being signed by the Governor.
Luis Valdes, the Florida State Director for Gun Owners of America made the following statement on the GOA Twitter account:
“This has been a long, hard-fought battle and we are excited to get a victory over the finish line. Still, however, GOA will continue our efforts to pressure state lawmakers to step up to the plate, build off this victory, and enact open carry. Keeping a policy on the books that was enacted at the behest of Janet Reno, which leaves us in the company of Illinois and New York, is something that every freedom lover should get behind.”
Detractors of such freedoms are already crying, insinuating that everyone will be walking the streets armed and Florida will become the wild west. Florida has long had a permissive permitting system, and relatively loose gun restrictions for residents that even included the ability to carry a firearm in a vehicle without a concealed weapons permit.
The new bill still prohibits felons from possessing or carrying firearms, requires lawful concealed carry gun owners to show IDs to law enforcement, and establishes some prohibited locations.
For all intents and purposes related to public safety, the new bill amounts to much ado about nothing. The bill simply relieves the burden of the paperwork-heavy permitting process, background check, fees and training requirement. (The previous training requirement was simply demonstrating that one could safely discharge a firearm, accomplished by literally shooting one round of .22.) Those wanting to purchase a firearm still have to pass a NICS check.
But in terms of freedom, the bill is extremely significant. The State of Florida recognizes the right of the People to keep and bear arms based upon the law of the land, the Constitution, without government oversight. The Florida law officially puts more than half of the states on the side of freedom with some form of Constitutional carry.
(The bill also sets standards for a Guardian Program, “to aid in the prevention or abatement of active assailant incidents on school premises,” a response in part to evil-doers targeting ‘gun free’ zones and killing innocent children and adults, such as last week’s massacre in Nashville.)
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the State continues to fight tooth and nail (a losing fight at the moment) to deny such rights to its citizens.
We congratulate the Florida legislative bodies and Governor DeSantis on keeping their oaths to the Constitution and enacting laws that actually enhance public safety by acknowledging the natural rights of individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones.