DeSantis' State of the State speech silent on Constitutional Carry

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled his support for permitless carry legislation in recent months, but the words “Constitutional Carry” didn’t cross his lips as he delivered his annual State of the State speech before lawmakers on Tuesday. Instead, the Second Amendment got a brief and rather generic treatment from the governor.

I also recommend that the Legislature strengthen protections for Floridians’ 2nd Amendment rights. These important rights should not depend on the whims of politicians who reject the existence of those rights.

I mean, that’s fine for what it is, but I was hoping for something with a little more “oomph” to it, especially given DeSantis’ specificity in terms of other issues. Here’s the governor on free speech, for instance.

A free society requires the ability to have robust discussions about issues of public importance, yet today Big Tech companies have used their platforms to elevate preferred narratives and to stifle dissent, serving as a de facto council of censors. Florida was the first state to legislate protections for its citizens and we should build on this success.

These same companies make a fortune by selling user data. Floridians should not have their data utilized by Big Tech without providing affirmative consent and I urge the Legislature to enact protections for the data privacy of all Floridians.

DeSantis also had some specific legislative goals on the issue of election integrity:

It is Orwellian doublespeak to invoke the concept of “Voting rights” to mean ballot harvesting, prohibiting voter ID and taxpayer funding of elections. Those are political concepts that erode the integrity of our elections.

Ballot harvesting has no place in Florida and we need to increase the penalties for those who do it. We also need to ensure that supervisors clean the voter rolls, that only citizens are registered to vote and that mail ballots only go to those who actually request them before each individual election.

To ensure that elections are conducted in accordance with the rule of law, I have proposed an election integrity unit whose sole focus will be the enforcement of Florida’s election laws. This will facilitate the faithful enforcement of election laws and will provide Floridians with the confidence that their vote will count.

And support for law enforcement:

Serving in law enforcement is a noble calling and we will not allow our officers to be smeared by reckless politicians and corporate media. My proposals to increase pay for state law enforcement by up to 25% and to provide $5,000 signing bonuses to law enforcement personnel who either transfer to or begin their careers in Florida will spark a tidal wave of qualified professionals seeking employment at agencies throughout the state.

Tuesday’s speech was DeSantis’ opportunity to lay out his legislative agenda for the year, and the fact that he didn’t take a sentence or two to call on the legislature to approve Constitutional Carry is telling.

The governor has stated that he’d sign a Constitutional Carry bill if it got to his desk, but today’s speech is a signal that he probably won’t be applying a lot of pressure on lawmakers to make sure it gets done.. at least not without gun owners and 2A groups applying some pressure on the governor himself.

And that could indeed make a difference. Last February, for instance, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on the legislature to approve a Second Amendment Sanctuary bill in his own State of the State address, but didn’t say a word about Constitutional Carry. It wasn’t until late April that Abbott announced his support for the bill, at which point the legislation had already passed the House but was facing some trouble in the state Senate. Abbott’s backing, along with the legislative efforts of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, helped to ensure that the measure eventually made it to his desk.

Maybe DeSantis is keeping his powder dry until and unless Florida lawmakers get cold feet on Constitutional Carry, but whatever the reason, I’m disappointed that the governor only had a few boilerplate words of support for the right to keep and bear arms in his State of the State address. A little specificity would have gone a long way in helping permitless carry’s progress this year, but for the time being gun owners, 2A activists, and pro-Second Amendment legislators are going to have to do the heavy lifting on Constitutional Carry.