Florida passes permitless carry

Florida passes permitless carry
(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Many residents of the state of Florida consider their state to be pretty pro-gun, and in many ways, it is. However, it also had some silly gun laws in place.

While many would argue that a carry permit requirement doesn’t quite reach that level of awful–it was “shall issue,” after all–it was evidence the state wasn’t quite as pro-gun as a lot of people liked to believe.

Now, they’ve taken a major step in that direction.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday morning that allows people to carry a concealed weapon in public without a government-issued permit, a top priority for the Republican governor.

The legislation also ends an existing state requirement to undergo training before carrying a concealed weapon outside the home. Applicants for a permit must currently demonstrate competency with a gun by taking a firearm safety or training course. The application process for a permit also includes a background check, which will also no longer be required if the bill is signed into law.

A news release for the legislation notes that it “leaves in place the current licensing process and background screening, so that those who choose to obtain a permit for reciprocity or other purposes are free to do so.”

While Democrats and gun-control advocates have criticized DeSantis for removing one of the few checks on firearms in the state, gun-rights activists have said the measure doesn’t go far enough. They want Florida to allow people to carry a gun in public in the open and for the state to eliminate gun-free zones. In Florida, it’s currently illegal to carry a firearm at a school or on a college campus.

So no, this doesn’t include open carry. I happen to think Florida’s restrictions on open carry are stupid, despite not being a particular fan of open carry myself. Just because I think it’s a less-than-ideal way to carry doesn’t mean anyone should decide for anyone else.

Even so, concealed carry without a permit–which is why this is permitless carry rather than constitutional carry–is a huge step forward for a state that just a few years ago passed a red flag law and barred the sale of long guns to lawful adults under the age of 21.

Clearly, this isn’t the same Florida.

Luis Valdes, the Florida director for Gun Owners of America, had this to say in a statement:

This has been a long, hard-fought battle, and we are excited to get a victory over the finish line. Still however, senior GOP lawmakers have rebuffed our demands at every turn to enact open carry, which leaves Florida in very liberal company. GOA will continue our efforts to pressure state lawmakers to step up to the plate, build off this victory, and enact open carry. Keeping a policy on the books that was enacted at the behest of Janet Reno, which leaves us in the company of Illinois and New York, is something that every freedom lover should get behind.

It’s clear that there’s still work to be done in Florida. Permitless carry isn’t going to be enough. Not with open carry still effectively banned except in some very limited exceptions.

Yet it’s still a big win for gun rights in the Sunshine State.