How serious is DeSantis about passing Constitutional Carry?

My take? DeSantis isn’t kidding when he says he’d sign the bill, but there’s a reason why you haven’t seen him try to strong-arm the legislature into giving him a bill to sign… yet.

The Florida governor was asked once again this week his thoughts on Constitutional Carry, and DeSantis reiterated his support while not offering up any specifics on when a bill might start moving, saying it’s ultimately up to the legislature.

“In terms of when? You know, I don’t know. The Legislature has got to pass it,” DeSantis said. “I mean, I’ve said for years I would sign. I don’t know if they have the votes now. But I know that this is something that a lot of people are going to be looking at as we go forward into this next election.”

DeSantis, who is running for re-election this year, said Friday he expects to sign such a measure into law before he leaves office.

Are the votes there for Constitutional Carry? I’d say so, especially if DeSantis really throws his weight behind it. I mean, do you think there was really majority support to eliminate Disney’s Reed Creek District before the governor called on lawmakers to do so? If so, lawmakers kept that pretty close to their vest, since there wasn’t even a vote to dissolve the special district during the regular session.

Once DeSantis made that issue a part of the legislature’s special session, however, lawmakers swiftly responded and did exactly as the governor asked. Which begs the question; why hasn’t the governor asked (or demanded) lawmakers take up Constitutional Carry now?

I don’t think it’s because DeSantis is secretly anti-Second Amendment or doesn’t really want to follow through on his pledge. I believe that there are some political calculations involved when it comes to the timing of a fight over Constitutional Carry, and DeSantis may be aiming at 2023 for a couple of reasons.

First, DeSantis can use Constitutional Carry as a campaign issue this year, even if he doesn’t have a bill to sign. Democrats running for governor have already tried to chastise DeSantis over his support for the measure, with Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried calling his comments “absurd political theater” (which is something Fried herself knows quite a bit about), but I’m sure DeSantis is willing and eager to have that debate as often as possible between now and November.

But DeSantis isn’t just running for a second term as governor. He’s also considering a run for president in 2024, and a high-profile push for Constitutional Carry next year would ensure him plenty of media coverage and give him another hot-button issue to use as he introduces himself to voters around the country. Over the past two years we’ve seen eleven states adopt Constitutional Carry laws of their own, but most of the low-hanging fruit has now been plucked and next year Florida would easily be the biggest, most populous state to approve the measure. Nebraska lawmakers will likely take up the issue once again, and if a Republican is able to win the governor’s race in Pennsylvania we could see a successful push for Constitutional Carry there, but I don’t think either of those efforts are likely to garner nearly as much national media attention as Florida’s fight for Constitutional Carry will generate.

So yes, I do think Ron DeSantis is serious about signing Constitutional Carry before he leaves office. I just happen to think that he’s also seriously considering is own political future, and those calculations are the driving factor in when Constitutional Carry will become the law of the land in the Sunshine State.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET