Florida Implements Permitless Concealed Carry, Drawing Criticism from White House and Gun-Control Advocates

Florida residents will now be able to carry concealed firearms without a permit anywhere in the state after Republican governor Ron DeSantis signed a controversial bill into law.[0] The move has been condemned by the White House and gun-control advocates as “shameful” and “the opposite of commonsense gun safety.” The measure, which will come into effect on July 1, 2023, allows eligible citizens aged 21 and over to carry firearms without obtaining a permit, undergoing training, or undergoing a background check.[1] The legislation is known as “constitutional carry” or “permitless carry.”[2]

The bill overturns Florida’s gun laws that previously required gun owners to obtain licenses to carry concealed weapons.[3] To obtain a license, people had to complete training courses and pass background checks.[3] However, existing state and federal laws, including requirements for background checks for gun purchases, still apply.[4] Buying a gun does not require any permits or training.[4]

Opponents of the bill fear that people who exploit private-seller loopholes to avoid a background check could end up carrying a concealed gun in public with no vetting.[4] Supporters of the legislation argue that people who will defy the law would do so anyway.[4] The bill does not change who can and cannot purchase a firearm.[5] Felons and other disqualified persons can still be punished under federal, state, and local statutes for unlawful possession of a firearm.[5]

The new law has been wrapped in public safety measures that aim to bolster school security.[1] One of the provisions includes the extension of the guardian program to private schools, enhanced active shooter training for law enforcement, and upgraded sharing of threat information between school districts.[1] In addition, the legislation incorporates private schools into the roster of educational establishments eligible to request assistance from the local sheriff in implementing a guardian program. It mandates law enforcement agencies to devise a strategy for dealing with a violent attacker, necessitates the Office of Safe Schools to create an operational process for managing behavioral threats and establish a threat management portal. Furthermore, it empowers the state Department of Education to enact emergency protocols, obligates the Department of Education to institute the Florida Safe Schools Canine Program, and contains other provisions.

The law also requires sheriffs to assist private schools in establishing a guardian program and authorizes certified individuals to serve as school guardians, allowing them to carry guns on campus.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has applauded Florida for becoming the 26th state to adopt “constitutional carry” legislation. The NRA-spearheaded initiative empowers Floridians to exercise their Second Amendment rights without undue bureaucratic barriers, affirming the fundamental right to self-defense. However, the move has been criticized by gun-control advocates and the White House.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement, “It is shameful that so soon after another tragic school shooting, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a permitless concealed carry bill behind closed doors, which eliminates the need to get a license to carry a concealed weapon… The people of Florida — who have paid a steep price for state and Congressional inaction on guns from Parkland to Pulse Nightclub to Pine Hills — deserve better.”[6]

Critics argue that the bill could make it easier for criminals to carry guns and prioritize winning the MAGA base over children’s safety.[7] However, supporters of the legislation argue that it empowers law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families.

Neighboring Georgia became the 25th state with “constitutional carry” legislation on the books when Governor Brian Kemp signed a similar bill nearly one year ago.[8] Florida now becomes the 26th state to allow permitless concealed carry.[9] There are approximately 42 states that allow open carry in some capacity, with a few that mandate permits for open carry.[10]

0. “Florida concealed carry goes permitless and gun classes may empty” Tampa Bay Times, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.tampabay.com/news/florida/2023/04/04/florida-concealed-carry-goes-permitless-gun-instructors-hope-safety/

1. “Gov. Ron DeSantis signs permitless carry into law during private ceremony” WPTV News Channel 5 West Palm, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.wptv.com/news/political/gov-ron-desantis-signs-permitless-carry-into-law-during-private-ceremony

2. “Florida gun laws concealed carry passed: What permitless bill means” Pensacola News Journal, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.pnj.com/story/news/politics/2023/04/03/florida-gun-laws-concealed-carry-passed-what-permitless-bill-means-for-residents/70077069007

3. “DeSantis quietly passes ‘shameful’ law allowing anyone to carry concealed gun in Florida” The Independent, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/florida-concealed-gun-permit-ron-desantis-law-b2313584.html

4. “Florida just approved a new gun carry law. What to know about what’s allowed — and not” Miami Herald, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article273908895.html

5. “Constitutional Carry Signed in Florida | An Official Journal Of The NRA” America’s 1st Freedom, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.americas1stfreedom.org/content/constitutional-carry-signed-in-florida

6. “DeSantis signs Florida’s permitless carry bill into law” WESH 2 Orlando, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.wesh.com/article/desantis-signs-permitless-carry-florida/43496403

7. “DeSantis signs Florida gun bill as activists demand more” POLITICO, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/2023/04/03/desantis-signs-gun-bill-00090170

8. “DeSantis’ signature tips US into majority ‘constitutional carry’ nation with new Florida gun rights law” Fox News, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/desantis-signature-tips-us-majority-constitutional-carry-nation-new-florida-gun-rights-law

9. “Days After Nashville Shooting, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Quietly Signs Bill Allowing Permitless Carry” The New Republic, 31 Mar. 2023, https://newrepublic.com/post/171565/florida-gov-ron-desantis-quietly-signs-bill-allowing-permitless-carry

10. “Florida lawmakers OK carrying guns without a permit” Orlando Sentinel, 30 Mar. 2023, https://www.orlandosentinel.com/politics/os-ne-permitless-carry-guns-final-passage-20230330-gvm4tdfuebe2xfysx33icbgzgy-story.html

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