Florida Republicans And Constitutional Carry

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Constitutional carry is, in many ways, the Holy Grail of gun rights. Once a state passes that, they tend to get most other things right, too.

It’s not an automatic, of course, but it’s hard to imagine an anti-gun state passing a law that says you can carry a gun without a permit, be it openly carried or concealed.

And generally, when it comes to the subject of gun rights, Republicans tend to be on our side and Democrats tend to be on the other. That’s not automatic either, of course–there have been pro-gun Democrats and anti-gun Republicans over the years–but it generally holds true.

The problem is when you live in a very red state and you still can’t get Republicans to push forward for gun rights, even after they passed gun control in recent years.

I’m talking, of course, about Florida.

When government requires a permit to exercise a right, it is no longer a right, but a privilege.

That’s why Florida Gun Rights has been leading the charge to pass constitutional carry in Florida, which means that if you are legally allowed to possess a firearm, then you should be allowed to carry it without begging for a government permission slip.

Twenty-one states recognize some form of constitutional carry as law of the land, including five states that passed it earlier this year: Texas, Montana, Utah, Iowa, and Tennessee.

Florida’s Gun Control Status Quo

Sadly, while nearly half of the country has focused on restoring gun rights for its citizens, weak-kneed Republicans in the Florida legislature have taken the state backwards by passing gun control.

The Florida legislature is one of the strongest Republican majorities in the country, including even Texas, which was the most recent and largest state to pass a constitutional carry law.

That means there should be no excuses for failing to pass constitutional carry in the so-called “Gunshine State.”

Unfortunately, under the direction of Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, self-proclaimed “pro-gun” Republican Representative Cord Byrd killed the 2020 constitutional carry bill by refusing it a committee hearing, much less a vote.

To exacerbate matters, Governor Ron DeSantis has been silent on constitutional carry during his three years in the Governor’s mansion.

These are, of course, valid points.

Honestly, Florida has every advantage when it comes to passing strong pro-gun bills. They hold a strong majority and they’re not getting the same influx of Democratic voters that a state like Texas has. There’s no real threat to their majority.

Instead, rather than pass constitutional carry years ago, they actually passed gun control in the wake of the Parkland shooting; raising the age limit for the purchasing of a long gun and instituting a red flag law, for example. As the writer says, they’ve taken the step backward.

And that could be problematic for DeSantis as he considers a 2024 presidential bid.

After all, while not all Republican voters are gun voters, a lot of them are. Enough to cause significant problems during a presidential primary, to be sure.

But the question is, why aren’t these Republican lawmakers willing to pass pro-gun laws?

At least part of it stems from the fact that there are no ramifications for not doing so. They feel secure in their seats and figure that they’ve got enough other stuff going on to appease their base that they don’t need to worry about gun rights voters. After all, who else are they going to vote for?

So long as they don’t have to fear a challenge, there’s no incentive for them to pass constitutional carry.

You want to change that? Challenge them. Back someone to run against them in a primary. Don’t do it everywhere, but strategically. Hit a few that are especially problematic–people like Byrd–and make it a real challenge. Even a close win may change their minds on such an issue, especially if they know they almost lost because of that.

And that holds true for everywhere else, too.

Gun groups need to rally together to back primary challengers for these people and make it damn clear that it’s because of their refusal to advance pro-Second Amendment legislation.

They’ll get the message soon enough.