Open carry amendment withdrawn as permitless carry bill hits Florida House floor

Open carry amendment withdrawn as permitless carry bill hits Florida House floor
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The Florida House of Representatives is poised to pass a permitless carry bill, with debate on HB 543 starting on the House floor today, but a last minute move to try to add an open carry provision to the legislation has now been yanked by its sponsor.

As Bearing Arms contributor Ryan Petty reported on Tuesday evening, Hillsborough County Representative Mike Beltran offered an amendment to HB 543 allowing legal gun owners to carry either openly or concealed under the permitless carry language, but on Wednesday Beltran pulled the amendment from consideration without explanation.

Beltran didn’t immediately respond to an email requesting comment on his proposal or a voicemail left with a person at his Tallahassee office.
Democrats had condemned the proposal.
Permitless carry will not make our communities safer and neither will open carry,” state Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, a northwest Broward Democrat who was mayor of Parkland when her city was rocked by the Stoneman Douglas massacre, in which 17 people were killed and 17 injured.
State Rep. Dan Daley, also a northwest Broward Democrat, called it “a dangerous political stunt to appease the NRA far right.”
Daley, a graduate of Stoneman Douglas, was a city commissioner in Coral Springs at the time of the massacre. Students from Coral Springs attend the Parkland high school.
Daley, Hunschofsky and other Democrats have been outspoken in their opposition to permitless carry. But Republicans control so many seats in the state Legislature that Democrats are powerless to influence the outcome.
Permitless carry appears virtually certain to pass the House and Senate and get signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Some gun advocates have been critical of DeSantis and Republicans for not advancing their agenda as far as they want by going for open carry. DeSantis has said he’d support it if the Legislature sent it to him, but it’s unclear if that’s a way to avoid antagonizing the most passionate gun advocates while knowing Republican leaders in the Legislature won’t let the measure get to his desk.
I highly doubt that Beltran pulled his amendment because Democrats were complaining about it. The more likely explanation is that GOP leaders in the House and Senate convinced or persuaded the lawmaker to drop the issue in the hopes of avoiding a major conflict between the House and Senate versions of the permitless carry legislation. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, who opposed permitless carry last session before doing an abrupt about-face of her own on the issue this year, says she’s opposed to including an open carry provision in the current bill because Florida sheriffs supposedly aren’t on board, but House sponsor Rep. Chuck Brannan has also opposed efforts to amend his bill to add open carry. It wasn’t long ago that Brannan threatened to pull HB 543 from consideration over activists’ open carry demands, telling them “maybe we just pull the whole thing. Then y’all can say, ‘Well, we pissed them off and we didn’t get nothing this year.’ How about that?”
Brannan didn’t follow through on his threats, but it sure looks like GOP leadership is twisting arms and doing some behind-the-scenes sweet talking to keep open carry from potentially being amended to the House permitless carry bill. Maybe there’ll be another attempt to amend the legislation during the debate on the House floor, but with Beltran’s pulling his own amendment from consideration Second Amendment activists are facing an uphill battle in their fight to pass a true Constitutional Carry bill into law.