When Florida’s 2023 legislative session officially kicks off next Tuesday, permitless carry is expected to be one of the first topics addressed by lawmakers. Both chambers have been pre-gaming legislation in committee in recent weeks, and bills are ready for floor action as soon as the session gets underway.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co Big Daddy Unlimited co-founder and Second Amendment advocate Sherri McKnight joins me to talk about the push for permitless carry in Florida and what she expects to see once the state no longer requires legal gun owners to get a state-issued permission slip before they can lawfully bear arms.
McKnight was one of many Florida gun owners to testify about the bill in committee and she’s up front about the fact that the legislation doesn’t go as far as it should, in her opinion.
“We do consider this permitless carry rather than Constitutional Carry, because it would not include open carry as it is in the other 25 states, and there’s currently some form of open carry in 47 states,” McKnight said, adding that while she’d much rather see an open carry provision included in the Florida bills she’s still in favor of at least enshrining permitless carry into law.
I’m in the same position as McKnight, to be honest. I live in the open carry commonwealth of Virginia, and I don’t need a concealed carry license to lawfully carry a firearm in self-defense as long as its openly displayed. I don’t see a lot of gun owners doing so in the rural part of the state where I live, but it happens on occasion and it’s never an issue. With open carry allowed in some form or fashion in the vast majority of states, it really is disappointing that an open carry provision wasn’t included in this year’s legislation, especially given the overwhelming Republican majority in Tallahassee, but I’m not a fan of letting perfect be the enemy of good. The bills under consideration in Florida could definitely be improved, but even as written they represent a major improvement over the status quo.
While opponents of permitless carry claim that removing the licensing requirement will lead to untold numbers of Floridians untrained and unfamiliar with guns walking around with them under their shirts or tucked inside their handbag, McKnight says she’s not concerned about that at all. In fact, she says the concealed carry courses offered at Big Daddy Guns are still running at capacity despite the likelihood that they’ll soon not be needed in order to lawfully bear arms. As the Second Amendment advocate argues, very few people would ever choose to carry around a loaded lethal weapon unless they were comfortable and competent with it. Training is invaluable, but that doesn’t mean that it should be mandated by law, particularly when training requirements can lead to unnecessary and potentially dangerous delays in someone being able to protect themselves in public from a stalker or domestic abuser.
I actually have a suggestion for any lawmaker concerned that a permitless carry law would lead to more uneducated and untrained individuals carrying a gun around; encourage firearms training by offering a tax credit for anyone who takes and passes a course. We saw a similar proposal offering tax credits for the purchase of a gun safe pass with overwhelming bipartisan support in Virginia’s divided legislature this year, and there’s no reason why Democrats and Republicans couldn’t come together to encourage firearms education as well.
I don’t think we’re gonna see anything that reasonable suggested by Florida Democrats if and when they attempt to amend permitless carry on the floor of the House and Senate, but I’d love to be proven wrong. My guess is that despite the objections from some gun owners that the bill doesn’t go far enough, and gun control activists that the legislation goes way too far, permitless carry is going to be approved pretty much as written, though the House may end up adopting the Senate’s language that also includes other measures like expanding the state’s School Guardian program and $1.5-million in grants to local law enforcement to offer gun safety classes.
Be sure to check out the entire conversation with Sherri McKnight in the video window below, as well as today’s armed citizen story, recidivist report, and our good deed of the day, and tune in tomorrow as well! We’ll have a special Friday edition of Cam & Co with California Rifle & Pistol Association head Chuck Michel giving us a meaty update on all of the 2A cases he and CRPA are involved in, including the federal lawsuit taking on Illinois’ ban on “assault weapons” and “large capacity” magazines.