Florida Fight For Constitutional Carry Heating Up

While Constitutional Carry bills have been introduced in Florida in recent years, they haven’t gotten much traction. Next year’s legislative session could be a very different story, however, as we discuss on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co.

Rep. Anthony Sabatini has probably been the most vocal supporter of Constitutional Carry in the Florida legislature, but even he recently expressed doubts that the House Speaker would bring his bill up for debate.

Ordinarily picking a political fight with the Speaker of the House isn’t a great strategy to advance legislation, but Sabatini’s clearly hoping to apply outside pressure to Sprowls in the hopes of forcing the issue. And to that end, Sabatini got a huge assist this week from one of his colleagues in the legislature’s other chamber.

… recently top brass in the Senate indicated they would support constitutional carry legislation, including Senate Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield.

“I support constitutional carry. That is one of the things that we will probably be looking at this session because it is important,” said Mayfield in a Legislative Delegation meeting last week.

While that’s not a solid commitment, it’s definitely a positive sign. Comments from other Republicans, however, indicate that supporters of Constitutional Carry still have some work to do.

Florida GOP Chair and State Senator Joe Gruters said he might support constitutional carry, but doesn’t want to see assault weapons openly carried on beaches.

“Because I think that would adversely impact Florida’s tourism economy,” Gruters said.

While there seems to be some support for constitutional carry legislation in the Senate, a bill hasn’t yet been filed in the chamber.

Let me assure Sen. Gruters that I’ve been to beaches in two states where openly carrying a firearm without a license is perfectly legal, and I’ve never once run across anyone carrying a rifle of any kind. Let me also remind Sen. Gruters that “assault weapon” is what the gun control lobby calls modern sporting rifles, and it would be great if the chairman of the Florida GOP didn’t sound like he’s getting talking points from Shannon Watts when he opines on Second Amendment issues.

By the way, we heard the same unfounded fears about Florida’s tourism industry being impacted when the state approved “shall issue” concealed carry licenses back in the 1980s. Tourism’s actually increased quite a bit since then. It’s the state’s violent crime and homicide rates that have plummeted, once again contrary to the claims of gun control activists. As the New York Times reported back in 1987:

One issue – crime – shapes arguments on both sides. According to figures compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Florida’s crime rate has been among the highest in the nation for years. In 1985, the bureau said, Florida had 7,574 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Last year the figure was 8,228. By comparison, New York State had 5,588 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 1985 and 5,776 in 1986, the bureau reported.

”It was about time for Florida to have such a law,” said Richard M. Manning, a National Rifle Association official who pushed for the legislation.

He is counting the days until the law goes into effect Thursday. So too is Mrs. Brady and other gun control supporters, and they are worried about what will happen in Florida. Widespread weapons possession ”is not the best way to handle the increase of violence,” said Mrs. Brady, whose husband, James S. Brady, the White House press secretary, was shot in an assassination attempt against President Reagan. ”We are the only civilized nation in the world without a good gun law and we are the most violent in the West.”

It’s amazing how little the gun control lobby’s talking points have changed in the past 35 years, isn’t it? And today’s anti-gun activists are just as wrong as Sarah Brady was in 1987. As it turned out, recognizing the right of the people to bear arms in self-defense didn’t lead to Florida becoming a more violent place. In 1987 there were 1,371 homicides reported in Florida. In 2020 there were 1,285. But the population of Florida has grown by more than 10-million people since 1987, so the difference in the per-capita homicide rate is even more striking: 11.4 homicides per 100,000 in 1987, and around 6 homicides per 100k last year.

More guns hasn’t led to more crime. More responsible gun owners carrying guns hasn’t led to more crime. And allowing those legal gun owners to carry without a state-mandated license isn’t going to lead to more crime either. If it was “about time” for Florida to pass shall-issue concealed carry in 1987, I’d say it’s long past time for the state to take the next step and adopt Constitutional Carry.