Florida passes permitless carry law despite opposition and concerns about increased violence

Florida residents will soon be able to carry concealed guns without a permit, following the signing of a new permitless carry law by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. Starting on July 1, 2023, anyone who can legally own a gun in Florida will be able to carry a concealed gun in public without any training or background check. The legislation has been labeled “constitutional carry” by supporters of Second Amendment rights.[0] However, gun safety groups have provided evidence suggesting that the law will contribute to an increase in violence, with research suggesting that removing the permitting requirement to carry concealed guns may instead contribute to a rise in violent crime. Residents of Florida are now allowed to carry concealed weapons without a permit, making it the 26th state to implement this law. Although the state has allowed concealed carry without permits, there are still various Second Amendment organizations that are dissatisfied with the fact that the state has not implemented a law for open carry.[1] The Florida Sheriffs Association is against open carry, which is also opposed by various law enforcement organizations.[1]

The signing of the legislation has sparked fear and outrage among gun safety advocates, with surveys indicating that Florida residents broadly oppose permitless carry. One recent poll conducted by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab showed that 77% of Florida voters, including 62% of Republicans, do not support the proposal.[2] In September of last year, another survey was conducted and it revealed comparable outcomes. 61 percent of Florida voters were against permitless carry, and this included 71 percent of Hispanic voters.

Research on permitless carry, also known as “constitutional carry,” is fairly limited.[3] However, according to a study from Johns Hopkins University, the rate of officer-involved shootings increased by nearly 13% in the 10 states which dropped the permit requirement from 2014 to 2020.[4] The main faculty member over the study wrote that the change “may be influencing the perceived threat of danger faced by law enforcement.”[5] A June 2022 paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research that discusses “unintended consequences” of states that enact right-to-carry legislation, notes that the “adoption of permitless carry laws between 2014 and 2020 caused a 13% average increase in officer-involved shootings.”[4]

Even though people are in a state of panic, there is no logical or research-based explanation to be afraid of a surge in mass shootings following the implementation of permitless carry.[6] After reviewing multiple studies, RAND Corporation concluded that there is no definitive proof that permitless carry leads to an increase in homicides.[6] There is some research indicating that permitless carry may lead to a decrease in violent crime.[6]

Although DeSantis and other Republican supporters have labeled the bill as “constitutional carry,” advocates for gun ownership have frequently urged GOP lawmakers to extend the law’s provisions to permit individuals to openly carry firearms.[3] Gun rights activists are expressing frustration even with the proposal for permitless carry, claiming that the legislation is not sufficiently expansive.[2] Instead of restricting the policy to concealed weapons, the activists advocate for a law similar to the one in Texas that permits residents to openly carry guns in public without a license.[2] DeSantis’s failure to enact an open permitless carry law reflects “political impotence,” as one gun rights supporter put it at the committee hearing last month.[2]

Since the Parkland shooting in 2018, Florida legislators raised the legal age to buy a gun from 18 to 21, funded millions of dollars for school security efforts, and created a red flag law that allows judges to take away someone’s guns in certain situations.[7] However, the signing of the permitless carry law has prompted criticism from Democrats and gun safety advocates who accuse DeSantis of prioritizing his presidential campaign over the safety of Floridians.

0. “Gov. Ron DeSantis signs permitless concealed carry legislation” WCJB, 3 Apr. 2023, https://www.wcjb.com/2023/04/03/gov-ron-desantis-signs-permitless-concealed-carry-legislation

1. “Veterans speak out against Florida’s new permitless carry law” WUSF Public Media, 10 Apr. 2023, https://wusfnews.wusf.usf.edu/politics-issues/2023-04-10/veterans-speak-out-against-floridas-new-permitless-carry-law

2. “‘People will die’: why is Ron DeSantis loosening gun laws that most Floridians support?” The Guardian US, 11 Apr. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/apr/11/ron-desantis-florida-gun-control-permitless-carry

3. “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

4. “Democratic lawmakers oppose Florida’s permitless carry law” News 13 Orlando, 6 Apr. 2023, https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2023/04/06/lawmakers–orange-county-sheriff-push-back-on-new-permitless-concealed-carry-law

5. “‘We Will Be Educating’: Miami-Dade Police Director Worries About Impact of Permitless Carry” NBC 6 South Florida, 7 Apr. 2023, https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/we-will-be-educating-miami-dade-police-director-worries-about-impact-of-permitless-carry/3010060/

6. “The Progressive Backlash to DeSantis’s Permitless Carry Is Baseless and Unhinged | Opinion” Newsweek, 4 Apr. 2023, https://www.newsweek.com/progressive-backlash-desantiss-permitless-carry-baseless-unhinged-opinion-1792557

7. “Florida residents divided on calls for stricter gun legislation” The Independent Florida Alligator, 8 Apr. 2023, https://www.alligator.org/article/2023/04/florida-gun-florida-residents-divided-on-calls-for-stricter-gun-legislation

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