DeSantis reiterates support for permitless carry

DeSantis reiterates support for permitless carry
AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas

This doesn’t mean that permitless carry is guaranteed to pass the Florida legislature next year, but it’s a good sign that Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t backing off his support for the measure now that the election has passed.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the Florida governor reiterated his support for removing the requirement that law-abiding gun owners first obtain a carry license before they can lawfully bear arms throughout the state.

DeSantis also voiced support for so-called “constitutional carry” legislation, which would allow Floridians to carry guns without a permit.  Asked about that issue, he turned to the new Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, who reiterated his support for the legislation.
Gun advocates have been pressuring Florida Republicans to act on constitutional carry. Republicans hold a supermajority in the House and Senate.
Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has been less enthusiastic about constitutional carry than Renner, telling the radio show host Bob Harden in May that she thinks it should be put to a voter referendum.
She said she’s heard from both supporters and those who fear it would hurt tourism.
“It’s such a divisive, such a big issue, and the term ‘constitutional carry’ means put it in the constitution. … Let the voters decide,” Passidomo told Harden.
Florida was one of the first states in the nation to approve a “shall issue” carry system back in the 1980s, but its nowhere near the head of the class when it comes to Constitutional Carry. Twenty-five states have already removed the licensing requirement for legal gun owners, and Florida is one of the few remaining holdouts that aren’t run by Democrats or have a divided legislature.
But as the Orlando Sentinel suggests, even if DeSantis supports the measure it could still get tied up by Senate leadership if Passidomo decides to play the spoiler.
It’s important to note that Passidomo’s comments were made back in May, but I haven’t been able to find anything since that would indicate she’s had a change of heart. So, assuming she’s still iffy and the phrase “Constitutional Carry” continues to bother Passidomo, here’s a suggestion: start calling it permitless carry instead. I know that some of us 2A supporters insist that there are meaningful differences between the two terms, but I’d say that for the average politician or voter the terms are interchangeable. If using that phrase removes Passidomo’s biggest argument against legislative action, then by all means let’s call it permitless carry from here on out.
I would also remind Passidomo that people said that Florida’s “shall issue” law was going to hurt tourism as well as drive up violent crime. When the New York Times reported on the law shortly before it took effect in 1987 the paper found no shortage of gun control activists predicting anarchy, chaos, and a whole lot of homicides.
Only Florida has a law ”in which a license to carry a concealed gun is given by the state,” said Sarah Brady, vice-chairman of Handgun Control Inc., a Washington-based lobbying group. ”We believe that this kind of decision should be made on a local level where people know one another rather than applying to a state office.”
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. Widepread 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.”
Violent crime did not explode in Florida after the implementation of its “shall issue” laws, as Passidomo presumably knows. Instead, by 2017 both violent crime and homicide rates in Florida had declined by more than 50%, while the number of active concealed carry holders had grown to about 2-million (the state currently has around 2.5-million active carry licenses).
In fact, if Passidomo wants to keep the status quo in place she’d be better off arguing that the current system is working instead of insulting our intelligence with her ridiculous rationalization that, since it’s commonly called Constitutional Carry it should have to be approved via a constitutional referendum. The U.S. Supreme Court said in Bruen that shall-issue systems like Florida’s are compatible with the Second Amendment, so Passidomo would even have some cover for her “I support the right to keep and bear arms, but…” statements. Whether or not those arguments would fare any better with the Republican base or Second Amendment activists is another story, but her current objections are so off-the-wall that they’re not going to win their hearts or minds anyway.
I’d love to see Florida adopt Constituti… er, permitless carry next year, and DeSantis has a lot of political capital to spend in 2023 thanks to his incredibly strong performance in the midterms and his growing popularity as the Republican standard-bearer in 2024. Here’s hoping he’s willing to spend some of it on persuading Passidomo to not stand in the way of permitless carry’s passage… even if she herself won’t vote to change the status quo.