DeSantis calls for Constitutional Carry in State of the State address

DeSantis calls for Constitutional Carry in State of the State address
Screenshot via YouTube/NationalConservatism

Will Florida’s permitless carry legislation be amended to include the ability to openly carry a firearm without a license? Gov. Ron DeSantis weighed in on the issue in a very public setting on Tuesday; his State of the State address.


The governor is well aware by now of the nuances between “permitless carry” and “constitutional carry”, as defined by Second Amendment advocates. Permitless carry typically refers to laws that allow for the carrying of concealed firearms without a government permission slip, while constitutional carry includes the ability to bear arms in self-defense either openly or concealed.

The vast majority of states already allow for open carry in some form or fashion, but Florida is one of just three states where the open carrying of firearms is entirely forbidden. Florida gun owners have argued that the state shouldn’t be emulating California or Illinois gun laws in any form or fashion and have been advocating to amend the existing permitless carry bill to include open carry, and last Friday Gun Owners of America’s Luis Valdes asked DeSantis where he stood at a book signing event in Tallahassee.

“Yeah, absolutely,” DeSantis is heard to say when asked whether a permitless carry bill HB 543 should be amended to allow people to carry and display firearms in most public places.

The exchange took place in Jacksonville where DeSantis was promoting his book, “The Courage to Be Free,” which is widely believed to be the opening act of a presidential campaign.

“I don’t think they’ll do it,” said DeSantis about lawmakers giving gun rights groups what they want.

“But, I would absolutely,” said DeSantis.


In his address to lawmakers on Tuesday, DeSantis didn’t explicitly tell lawmakers to amend the current House and Senate bills to include open carry, but frankly, he shouldn’t have to. Most of these legislators have also had a crash course in the difference between the two terms over the past few months, and the debate over the existing language and what many Second Amendment advocates are calling for has been playing out at the state capitol and in the press for almost as long.

Do I wish DeSantis would have uttered the phrase “open carry”? Yeah, I do. While he may not have needed to spell it out, it would have been nice to see. The governor also talked about Florida joining the 25 other states that have already adopted constitutional carry, but that includes the state of North Dakota, where open carry is only allowed with a handgun permit. That’s not a true constitutional carry state, though its still a better status quo than what exists in Florida.

To be fair, I don’t expect DeSantis to know the intricacies of every carry law in the nation, and I’m really glad to see that the governor is saying the right things about constitutional carry, especially in his address to lawmakers. I just hope that he and his office are following up with some behind-the-scenes chats with any holdouts among the GOP caucus. DeSantis has a lot of political capital to spend at the moment, and repealing Florida’s ban on open carry would be good politics as well as good policy; giving him another opportunity to tweak California Gov. Gavin Newsom for repeatedly infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.


I view today’s reference to constitutional carry as a very good thing, even if I would have preferred a clearer call to action. Until HB 543 and its Senate companion are amended to repeal the state’s ban on open carry legislators need to continue hearing from their constituents… and their governor.

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