Gun rights groups in Florida still pushing for open carry

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Florida is a fairly pro-gun state, notwithstanding the whole fiasco that occurred in the wake of Parkland. Yet they’ve never been as pro-gun as their reputation suggested.


For one thing, they prohibit open carry for anything while hunting or fishing.

This is kind of stupid. It’s especially stupid since the state is on the brink of passing constitutional carry.

Activists in the state, though, are pushing hard for open carry to be included in the new law.

With GOP supermajorities in the Legislature, House Speaker Paul Renner and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo can easily pass bills that top their agenda, but a gun rights bill has put Republican lawmakers feeling the heat and on the defensive these days.

That’s because legislation this session about a permitless/‘constitutional” carry bill — requiring no permit or training class — isn’t enough for the gun advocates who have been streaming into the state capital.

There’s clearly been a breakdown in what true “constitutional carry” means for gun rights advocates. And they want that bill to include a provision for Floridians to be able to openly carry firearms in public (current Florida law allows one to openly carry a weapon to and from hunting, fishing, camping and the gun range). It’s called “open carry.”

And things are getting a bit dicey.

At a Senate committee meeting last week, Matt Collins, a gun rights supporter, said that it was “embarrassing” for Gov. Ron DeSantis if he couldn’t get open carry passed this year.  It would be “political impotence on the part of Gov. DeSantis, Collins said. “It’s failed leadership and it’s weak,” he added.

Look, I think it’s stupid that Florida doesn’t have open carry.


I’m not a fan of it myself, but I don’t think it should be restricted in any way, shape, or form. It’s idiotic that Florida so completely restricts open carry. That simply shouldn’t be the case, and we’ve got data from most of the rest of the nation showing that it’s not nearly the problem many believe.

However, I have a concern, and it’s one I hope Floridians are prepared to consider.

This bill isn’t a done deal. It’s not a slam dunk by any stretch.

Constitutional carry, even without an open carry provision, is a step forward for the state. Is open carry so important that it’s worth scuttling extremely pro-gun legislation over?

That’s what’s on the table, after all. Passing a permitless carry law is certainly the goal, but it’s not an automatic, which means being too demanding could well kill the measure entirely.

I mean, if you can get both, by all means. I’m not saying no one should try. Get everything you can, because you know the other side sure as hell will.

I’m just saying that you have to decide whether it’s worth pushing too hard.

Open carry is grand, but if you’re not willing to keep the status quo until you can get it, you have to be careful how hard you push, and some aren’t being that careful.

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