Top Florida lawmaker: Constitutional Carry is coming next session

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

I’ll say right up front that I’ve adopted an “I’ll believe it when I see it” mentality towards Constitutional Carry in the Sunshine State. Yes, I know that Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he’s all for the idea, but the bill introduced by Rep. Anthony Sabatini never even got a committee hearing in the state House this year, and there was no Senate companion bill that could even be heard in theory. I think support for the measure is growing, but I’m not sure I’d call it a front-burner issue for Republicans in Florida at the moment.

Having said that, it’s definitely worth noting that one of the legislative leaders who’ll be responsible for shepherding any permitless carry bill to DeSantis’ desk now says that the House will act, and approve, a Constitutional Carry bill next session.

Incoming Florida House Speaker Paul Renner told a supporter his chamber would move a “constitutional carry” policy for gun owners in Florida in the next legislative session, according to a video surreptitiously recorded at a fundraising event last month and posted online.
In the video, which was filmed at a House GOP fundraising event in Ocala on May 17, a man pulls Renner aside and asks if expanding the right for Floridians to carry guns without permits would be a legislative priority.
“I can tell you, we’ll do it in the House,” Renner tells the man. “We need to work on the Senate a little bit.”
When Renner was asked by reporters about his comments, he didn’t deny the authenticity of the recording, but did push back on calling it a “priority.”
“The issue on constitutional carry is whether government should be playing a role in saying whether you can or can’t carry outside the home when you meet the basic requirements of being able to pass a background check,” he said.
In April, Gov. Ron DeSantis promised to deliver a bill allowing permitless carry before his time as governor was through. The support of Renner, who leads one of Florida’s two legislative bodies, would mean the policy would have significant momentum next legislative session.
… Renner isn’t coming in with a preconceived notion of what Florida’s “constitutional carry”legislation would look like, and seeks to balance the liberties of the Second Amendment with the need for safety, said his spokesperson, Andres Malave.
The timing of Renner’s remarks is important to keep in mind. The first comments came in mid-May, a week before the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York in which ten people were murdered. A week after that came the mass murders of 19 fourth-graders and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
In the wake of those horrific incidents, Democrats in Florida demanded that a special session on gun control be held, and lawmakers have until 3 p.m. Friday to cast their votes in favor or opposition of the idea, which would also have to get the approval of DeSantis in order for the session to take place.
That isn’t going to happen, but at a time when support for gun control is climbing in public opinion polls, even among Republicans in some surveys, you can see why a politician like Renner, who’s hoping to grow the Republican legislative majority in elections this fall, might not want to get into an in-depth discussion about the prospects of permitless carry, at least for the moment.
I’ll give Renner credit for not backing away from his comments or doing an about-face on Constitutional Carry at a time when we’ve seen some Republicans reversing course and embracing all kinds of gun control laws, but it does indeed sound like the Senate may be problematic when it comes to getting approval for the measure, which is already established law in 25 states.
Incoming Senate President Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, saidin a text Wednesday thatissues related to firearms are top of mind for her colleagues and constituents, especially after the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, and the shootings in Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018 that killed 17 and at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016 that killed 49.
Passidomo said she hasn’t spoken with Renner about constitutional carry. In a podcast interview from May, which was recorded before the recent spate of high-profile mass shootings in America, Passidomo said she had heard from constituents who support the move, and from those who worry it could impact tourism and quality of life.
“I think that it’s such a divisive, such a big issue, and the term ‘constitutional carry’ means put it in the constitution,” Passidomo said in the interview on “The Bob Harden Show.” “If that’s what you want, let the voters decide.”
Passidomo on Wednesday pointed to Florida’s red flag law as a good balance between Second Amendment rights and protecting communities and schools. That law allows law enforcement to petition for a risk protection order if they believe someone is a danger to themselves or others. If a judge approves the order, firearms are removed from a person’s home.The process allows the person given the order to oppose it in court.
Ignore for a second the fact that Passidomo is using a gun control law as an example of striking a balance between the Second Amendment and protecting communities and schools. Why is Passidomo making an argument that protecting the Second Amendment is somehow contrary to protecting communities and schools in the first place? That tells me that she doesn’t view the right to keep and bear arms as being beneficial to the safety of individuals or their greater community, and that’s a very bad sign for Constitutional Carry’s prospects in the Senate, unless she manages to reacquaint herself with the statistics showing that as more than 2-million concealed carry licenses were issued in Florida, the state’s violent crime and homicide rates have dramatically declined. Legal gun owners aren’t the problem in Florida, and there’s no reason for Passidomo to portray the right to keep and bear arms as counterproductive to a safer society unless she truly believes we’d be better off without the Second Amendment or she’s trying to curry the favor of voters who think that way.
There’s time enough for Passidomo to come around, but as I said, I’m taking a wait-and-see approach to the promises of Constitutional Carry in Florida. If DeSantis throws his full weight behind the idea I think it will get done, but so far we’ve yet to see that happen.