By Ryan Dailey, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Calling the proposal an effort to “remove the government permission slip,” House Speaker Paul Renner on Monday announced legislation that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without licenses.
Renner, R-Palm Coast, was flanked by Republican lawmakers and county sheriffs who backed the 63-page proposal, which would create what supporters call “constitutional carry.”.
“Central to the idea of freedom is the right that we can defend ourselves against physical attack, as well as defend those that we love. The Constitution did not give us those rights, the creator gave us those rights. But it does put it down on paper in the Second Amendment. And the courts have interpreted that to mean an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense,” Renner said.
Under current law, people who want to carry concealed weapons need to apply to the state for a license and go through a process that includes passing criminal background checks. More than 2.62 million people had concealed weapons licenses as of Dec. 31, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers the program.
Lawmakers will consider the proposal (HB 543) during the legislative session that will start March 7. Under the bill, a person would need to “carry valid identification at all times when he or she is in actual possession of a concealed weapon or concealed firearm and must display such identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer.”
Also, current prohibitions on carrying guns at places such as schools and athletic events would continue to apply.
People who are not Florida residents could carry concealed firearms if they are 21 or older, according to the proposal.
Rep. Chuck Brannan, R-Macclenny, and Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, are sponsoring the House measure. A Senate version, which had not been posted online as of early Monday afternoon, is expected to be sponsored by Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa.
A House news release included a statement from Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, supporting the proposal. Also, Gov. Ron DeSantis has expressed support for the idea in the past.
“This bill is a big step to help the average law-abiding citizen to keep from having to go through the hoops of getting a permit from the government to carry their weapons. It is also not going to change who can and cannot carry a gun — people who are prohibited now will still be prohibited,” Brannan said.
But Democrats quickly criticized the proposal and pointed to issues such as the elimination of a training requirement that is part of obtaining concealed weapons licenses.
“This is not constitutional carry, this is untrained carry. We have to be very clear and specific as to what the legislation actually does, and that is to remove the training requirement, and you will no longer have the check if you have something disqualifying you in your criminal record,” Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, a Democrat who was mayor of Parkland at the time of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting, told reporters Monday.
The group Prevent Gun Violence Florida vowed to fight against the legislation and cited “a clear link between lax gun laws and increased gun violence.”
“In an era of increased mass shootings and rising gun crime, it is outlandish that our Legislature is being asked to loosen gun restrictions rather than strengthen them,” the group said in a prepared statement.
The House news release said the proposal “does not affect laws relating to the purchase of a firearm and will not allow anyone prohibited from possessing a firearm to carry concealed.” Renner said it is “important but not required” for gun owners to take courses on things such as firearm safety.
Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis, who is president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, and gun-rights groups touted the bill.
“We see incidents everyday where law-abiding citizens that are armed with the ability to protect themselves interrupt active shooters, interrupt armed robberies, are able to protect themselves in all sorts of different scenarios,” Nienhuis said during the news conference at the Capitol.
Art Thomm, Florida state director for the National Rifle Association, said in a prepared statement that the gun-rights group “looks forward to welcoming Florida into the fold of freedom that constitutional carry provides.”
“Half of the country currently recognizes the fundamental right of law-abiding gun owners to carry a firearm for self-defense as enshrined in our Constitution,” Thomm said.
Meanwhile, Renner said that the House will introduce additional legislation in the coming weeks to “go after gun crime” such as stealing firearms out of cars and using guns in gang violence.
Renner also took jabs at local officials for “creating an unsafe environment.”
“We don’t operate in a vacuum. What’s happening in our society right now is ‘defund the police 2.0,’ with these cities and counties and woke prosecutors that are advocating for no bail on third-degree felonies. So, I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my history here on earth that we’ve needed the right to bear arms for individuals more than we do now,” Renner said.
I have a CCL, so what I am going to say may sound like I am against unlicensed conceal carry. What I am against is someone who carries a gun who does not know how to accurately hit what they are shooting at. I am against a person who believes shooting as many bullets with the hopes that they will hit something. I don’t want to be in an incident where a bad person comes into a restaurant or store and starts shooting and a person who doesn’t really know how to shoot accurately pulls a gun and starts spraying bullets.
I am in a job where I can educate people who are contemplating the purchase of a gun understands that becoming very accurate almost always precludes the need for a lot of bullets. Also if a person buys a gun that is more likely to go through and through is also asking for trouble. Using the right ammo and a gun with slower velocity is a better and safer choice than high power and more bullets.
I think that a person should be allowed to carry without a license but when they purchase, they should be able to explain how to shoot, when to shoot, what to look out for and where it is legal to carry or not carry. They should also sign a form stating that understanding and have a trained instructor sign that they understand how to use the gun properly.
I know, I know! It’s more work. To buy a gun, a person is required to fill out a form 4473 and have a background check completed. If buyer doesn’t have a CCL then they have a 3 day wait. So the CCL does have some uses. So expecting to understand how a gun works and the lawful use of that gun shouldn’t take more than a few minutes where as the paperwork 4473 and background check takes a long time (anywhere between 5 minutes to 30 minutes) to fill out depending on the person completing the form, and the background check from another 5 minutes to several hours or even days, means that a few minutes answering correctly how, when, where to use a gun and signing off is minimal. This doesn’t preclude a person from carry, but it does assure the person understands a firearm well enough to use it safely before they are allowed to purchase the gun.
Can’t disagree with the getting rid of most permits. They’re all government money grabs. Why should the government protect you from a bad haircut? 😉
Where in the 2nd amendment does it say the states have to issue permits or require training? I’m an advocate of being properly trained, but just because you’re dumb, doesn’t take away your 1st amendment right to say dumb stuff. Constitutional carry should be the de facto law of the land. States should have no rights to supersede the constitution. Period.
Constitutional Carry is the right way to go. Criminals don’t get a license to carry their likely-stolen gun when seeking their victim our crime opportunity. With the continued push to defund the police, no bail policies, Soros-owned DA’s, et al… it is only fair – and more importantly our right – for we law abiding citizens to be able to defend ourselves from the ever-growing crime wave brought about by the Marxicrat policies.
John is right. Enough with everything being taxed. My income is taxed on payday then taxed again when I spend it.
Keep the Carry Permit but, make it where it does not have to be fully hidden 100% of the Time. I have a Sneaky Pete Holster where the end of a Spare Clip can be seen if you get the right angle. It’s only about a Quarter Inch and it is the Rubber Tip that sticks out of the Bottom of the Gun but is against the Law for it to be seen. ALSO, I was told that having a Riffle or Shotgun in a Gun Rack in your Truck Back Window like we had back in the 70’s and 80’s in also against the Law. Make that Legal again.
I like the idea of unlicensed concealed carry.
What if some future dark election puts a Gillum or Crist in charge of Florida?
Well then they can come to every CC licensed home and take away all your guns, knives, rocks, whatever they want.
Hey heres an idea why not purge all existing records on all existing CC’s so a future Gillum or Crist cant do that????
“Great idea Snidely we will do exactly what you said”!!!! Said all Florida’s House & Senate members, and The Govornor in unison.
“We never thought of that genious idea”.
Hey Hey HeyThanks Snidely!!!!!
While getting rid of the need to have a license to carry a gun these folks should also get rid of the need to have a license to fish, hunt, drive, cut hair, be a dentist or doctor or teacher, get married, etc.