Florida residents will be allowed to carry concealed firearms without a permit after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a Constitutional Carry bill into law on Monday. The move is viewed as another legislative victory for the governor, who is preparing for a presidential campaign.
The bill was signed in a private ceremony in DeSantis’ office, with his only public comment being “Constitutional Carry is in the books,” in a three-paragraph news release.
The new law will allow anyone who can legally own a gun in Florida to carry one without a permit starting on July 1. Background checks and training will not be required for carrying concealed guns in public.
The debate surrounding the legislation was split along political lines, with Republicans arguing that law-abiding citizens have the right to carry guns for self-protection. Republicans believe that most people will still want to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons in states with reciprocal agreements and to buy guns without a waiting period.
However, Democrats and gun control advocates argue that the new law will only make the state more dangerous, pointing to past mass shootings in Florida such as the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando and the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
“I am pissed,” said Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, during an online news conference. “I will chase him down across the state as well as possibly across the country…because Ron DeSantis today put his signature to a bill that guarantees there will be more Jaimes.”
Guttenberg added that he believes DeSantis is a coward for signing the bill behind closed doors.
“Somebody in Florida may die … because of this legislation. That will be because of you, Ron DeSantis,” Guttenberg said. “I understand why you hid today … You are a weak, pathetic, small-minded individual.”
Almost 3 million Floridians have a concealed weapons permit. Although background checks and a three-day waiting period will still be required to buy guns from licensed dealers, they are not mandatory for private transactions or weapons exchanges.
DeSantis has indicated that he thinks Florida should go further and allow people to openly carry guns. However, while some lawmakers have advocated for open carry, it is unlikely that such legislation will pass during this session.
The bill signing comes five years after former Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill imposing gun restrictions following the deaths of 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Under DeSantis, the momentum has shifted towards expanding gun rights rather than limiting them, earning him praise from gun-rights advocates.
“Government will not get in the way of law-abiding Americans who want to defend themselves and their families,” said Republican Senator Jay Collins, who sponsored the bill, in a news release.
John Velleco, the Executive Vice President for Gun Owners of America, celebrated the new bill.
“It was a pleasure to attend the signing ceremony with Governor DeSantis today in Tallahassee, and we commend him for pushing lawmakers to right this discriminatory wrong from the state’s past,” Velleco said.
The bill was signed one week after six people were killed in a Nashville school shooting, which was highlighted by President Joe Biden’s administration.
“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,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “This is the opposite of common-sense gun safety.”
As GunsAmerica previously reported, there is no evidence that crime rates increase in the wake of the passage of permitless carry laws. Fears and concerns over “blood in the streets” are totally unfounded. If Constitutional Carry was a threat to public safety, there’d be ample data to substantiate that claim as half the country has these laws on the books. And not one state has turned into the wild wild west.