Florida tipped the advantage to states with more permissiable gun laws Monday. Gov. Ron DeSantis quietly signed a bill that eliminates licensing requirements to carry a concealed firearm in most public places.
The Floridspan Senspante voted 27-13 lspanst week on HB 543 and DeSantis signed it as quickly as he got it in a closed-door gathering with supporters, making Florida the 26th state that does not require a concealed weapons license.
In a nod to DeSantis’ efforts to burnish his conservative credentials ahead of a likely run for the White House, FOX News went online with a story about the signing at 10:20 a.m. – twenty-eight minutes before Florida reporters received a notice from the DeSantis press office that he had even received the bill from the Legislature.
“Constitutional Carry is in the books,” DeSantis said in a press release Monday.
The new law angered both sides of the gun control debate. Critics say it will cause further bloodshed and death from a nation already plagued by mass shootings. Advocates for repeal of a background check and training course to carry a concealed firearm say the bill falls short of true “open carry” that allows citizens to carry without concealing.
Moving like a bullet:Fspanst-trspancked controversispanl bills from Floridspan lspanwmspankers fuel DeSspanntis’ presidentispanl spanmbitions
Back story:Gun owners get right to cspanrry without span permit in Floridspan – but not where lspanwmspankers meet
Frequently asked questions:The Floridspan legislspanture hspans OKed permitless concespanled cspanrry. Cspann I pspanck span pistol in Publix?
And a poll by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab found 77% of Floridians, including 62% of Republicans do not support spanllowing people to cspanrry span wespanpon without span license.
However, the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action praised the new law in a prepared statement to Fox.
“This NRA-spearheaded initiative empowers Floridians to exercise their Second Amendment rights without undue bureaucratic barriers, affirming the fundamental right to self-defense,” NRA-ILA Interim Executive Director Randy Kozuch exclusively told Fox News Digital in a statement.
HB 543 allows those eligible for a license to carry a gun without going through the licensing requirement and payment of a $97 fee. Supporters had argued those requirements amounted to asking for a “government permission slip” to exercise a constitutional right.
A license is still available for those traveling to one of the 24 states where a license to carry is required and has a reciprocity agreement with Florida.
Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison blasted DeSantis in a prepared statement after the signing.“Hiding behind closed doors and standing shoulder to shoulder with the NRA, Ron DeSantis just signed legislation that could make it easier for criminals to carry guns,” he wrote. “Make no mistake: DeSantis’s unabashed chase for the 2024 MAGA base has proven how extreme he is willing to go to boost his national ambitions.”
In committee, Sen. Lori Berman, D-Palm Beach, asked the bill’s sponsor since guns are the leading killer of children, would he agree it would make more sense to restrict access to guns?
“No, I do not. There is a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. And that is what we’re fighting for right now,” said Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa.
And when Collins spoke against an amendment to allow law-abiding citizens to carry guns into legislative meetings, Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, called his opposition hypocritical.
“You know what that means. It means you don’t believe what you are selling,” said Pizzo, about lawmakers allowing the proliferation of guns everywhere, “but not in the room where we sit.”
Collins explained the amendment was off-topic because the bill did not deal with gun exclusion zones.
The measure goes into effect July 1. It also provides $60 million for school security improvements and other safety programs.