"Dozens" protest permitless carry bill at Florida state capitol

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Back in January of 2020 I had the privilege of speaking at the Virginia Citizens Defense League’s Lobby Day rally at the state capitol in Richmond, Virginia. I’ll never forget standing at the podium in front of the capitol building and looking down the hill at a sea of tens of thousands of gun owners filling Capitol Square and the downtown streets in opposition to the scores of newly-introduced gun control bills, including a ban on so-called assault weapons. It was an impressive sight, and it portended a difficult session for gun control activists who managed to get almost a half-dozen measures enacted into law but failed to turn their gun ban bill into law.


If anti-gunners were hoping for a similar turnout in Tallahassee this week to protest the GOP’s push for permitless carry, they didn’t get their wish. Instead of a crowd of 30,000 or more, the number of attendees at the anti-gun rally outside of the state capitol on Thursday could be counted in the “dozens”.

The rally was organized by the group ‘March for Our Lives,’ which was created by survivors of the 2018 Parkland shooting.

The same day, House lawmakers debated a permitless concealed carry bill and a bill that would lower the minimum age to own a long gun from 21 to 18.

Governor DeSantis has already said if the permitless carry measure makes it to his desk, he will sign it into law.

Supporters say the bills are about making Florida safer.

“The fact of the matter is, the second amendment is not there for hunting and recreational shooting,” said House Republican Berny Jacques during a committee meeting. “The second amendment was placed there to protect free citizens, to protect their lives and their liberty.”

Honestly, I think the local media was being charitable when they described the paltry turnout. Based on some of the video I’ve seen as well as this tweet from one of the reporters covering the protests, it looks like there were almost as many media outlets on hand to cover the protest as the number of protesters themselves.


We’ve seen a lot of stories over the past few days about the supposed unpopularity of Florida’s permitless carry bill, with some commentators predicting that Ron DeSantis’s support for the permitless carry legislation could hurt his chances in 2024. But the paltry turnout in Tallahassee on Thursday suggests that even if some voters aren’t big fans of permitless carry, it’s not an issue that they’re particularly passionate about.

The massive crowds at the state capitol in Richmond in January of 2020 were a preview of the red wave election in the state in 2021, catapulting Republicans into every statewide elected office and leading the GOP to regain control of the state House of Delegates. By contrast, the trifling number of anti-gun activists in Tallahassee on Thursday is a sign that, no matter what polls might say, permitless carry isn’t an issue that Democrats can use to fire up their base… much less the general public. Their howls of protest may be amplified by the anti-gun media, but as the March for Our Lives protest shows, there’s not much real grassroots support for their anti-gun agenda.


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