The anti-gun rhetoric from the editorial board of the Miami Herald is at stark odds with the reality of Florida’s new permitless carry law, which took effect back in July. In an editorial this week the paper’s editors cite a news story from their own pages to complain that the law is leading to more people carrying firearms without any kind of training.
Applications for concealed gun permits, optional as of July 1, have fallen by about 64%, compared to the same three months a year ago, the story notes. And so have applications for gun safety classes, an alarming development in a state where “Florida man” has already given us a top spot in any listing of the ridiculous or out-of-control.
While the number of new applications for carry permits may have declined, I’m less convinced about their contention that far fewer people are getting training. Yes, the paper’s reporters found some firearms instructors who say that participation in their classes have dwindled, but we’ve also seen recent reports that “introductory shooting classes are booked up months into the future” at the moment.
For all of their pearl-clutching and hand-wringing, the Herald editors offer no evidence that Florida’s become a more dangerous place since permitless carry went into effect. And in fact, a review of homicide statistics in the state’s largest cities shows that murders are actually dropping this year compared to the number of homicides in 2022.
Crime analyst Jeff Asher keeps a running tally of year-to-date homicide statistics for more than 150 cities across the country, and the latest figures from his dashboard shows declines in murders in every one of the Florida cities he monitors.
Unfortunately, the latest statistics Asher has for Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, and Tampa are all before permitless carry took effect, but Asher’s dashboard does contain more current homicide totals for Jacksonville and Miami. According to the Jacksonville PD, there’s been a 7% reduction in homicides through November 6th, while Miami police report murders have declined by 5.48% through November 5th.
Florida’s not the only state where permitless carry became law this year. After Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed SB 215, concealed carry licenses became unnecessary for legal gun owners in June. What’s happened in the Buckeye State in the months since? Homicides have increased by 11.45% in Cleveland (through November 6th) and by 9.4% in Columbus, but they’ve declined by 19.23% in Cincinnati and 30.43% in Toledo.
Maybe it’s just too early to see the supposedly disastrous effects of permitless carry in these states since we only have a few months worth of data. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a constitutional carry bill in 2022, however, so it’s been in place throughout 2023. Are things getting worse?
It sure doesn’t look like it. Atlanta homicides have dropped by 13.87% compared to 2022, while Savannah’s seen a 20% decline. Albany, Georgia’s homicide rate has jumped by 18% compared to last year, but that’s in part because of the low number of homicides recorded. Albany had 11 murders at this time last year and 13 so far this year; hardly evidence that permitless carry is putting residents in danger.
Should gun owners get training before they carry a firearm for self-defense? I think it’s a great idea, but that doesn’t mean that they should have to take or pass a state-approved training course before exercising their right to carry.
Even in Florida, where demand for training has supposedly cratered (at least depending on which reporter you talk to), my guess is that new gun owners are either still signing up for classes or getting more informal training and instruction from friends or family members before lawfully carrying. Most people aren’t going to carry a gun unless they feel comfortable and competent in doing so; not because the state mandates it, but because they don’t want to accidentally shoot themselves or somebody else.
It might be too bold a concept for them, but I suggest the Miami Herald editors get off their fainting couches and start looking at some actual statistics before sounding off on the state’s permitless carry law in the future… unless they’d like to replace “Florida man” as a national punchline.