With Gov. Ron DeSantis lending his support and the large Republican majorities in both legislative chambers, the odds that permitless carry will become law in Florida this year are pretty good, especially now that a spokesperson for Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, who’d previously indicated a reluctance to move a permitless carry bill, says the senator will help introduce the measure and that Passidomo does, in fact, support the legislation removing the requirement for legal gun owners to obtain a license to carry before exercising their right to bear arms.
Permitless carry does have its share of critics, particularly in the media and among Democratic officials in the state, including Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony, who was appointed to the position by DeSantis in 2019 before winning a full four-year term in one of the last Democratic bastions in the state in 2020. Late last week, Tony told attendees of a public hearing that he “absolutely 100,000-plus-10-percent disagree with it.”
“We are very divided in this state once we pass Orlando. The dynamics change, the philosophical approach to politics and everything else,” Tony said. “So I would imagine we are not going to get every sheriff to support that,” meaning to oppose a further weakening of state gun laws. “I will represent us the best I can, and the interests of this community, and I won’t waver in my commitment to that.”
…With the five-year mark since the Parkland school shooting a few weeks away, Tony said licensing is a way of flagging individuals who should not have access to firearms, even though those safeguards failed in the Parkland case.“Let’s keep the checks and balances and expand on them,” Tony told lawmakers. “I don’t think we need to reduce our due diligence to safeguard this community.”Lucy Rowles of Sunrise, representing Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, urged lawmakers to oppose any permitless carry gun law for Florida.“Any attempt to enact this dangerous legislation is a step toward dismantling our state’s culture of responsible gun ownership and respect for the Second Amendment,” Rowles said.
Tony is obviously doing right by the community that elected him. But if he goes to Tallahassee to personally lobby against permitless carry, his vocal opposition may only make the Legislature’s job easier. A Democratic sheriff from Florida’s most liberal county is a perfect foil for this pro-gun Legislature — even a sheriff appointed by a governor with high statewide popularity, as Tony was four years ago this week.Republican politicians will be looking for examples to show how out of step Broward is with the rest of the state, and permitless carry may be Exhibit A.