Floridians will beable to carry concealed guns without a permitunder a bill the Legislature sent to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. The governor, who is considering a presidential run, has said the issue is one of his priorities.
In a 27-13 vote Thursday, the Senate passed a bill to eliminate concealed weapons permits, allowing gun owners to carry firearms in the state without the previously required license and training.
Republican leaders like Gov. Ron DeSantis have expressed support for the idea, which indicates the bill should not have a problem passing in a legislature with a GOP a super-majority.
Democrats, however, have argued that the bill would make Florida — a state with a history of horrific mass shootings — less safe.
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While supporters are calling the bill "constitutional carry," critics have dubbed it "untrained carry," criticizing the ability it will give people to carry guns without the proper background checks and training.
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Here's what you need to know about Florida's current gun laws and how they could be affected by the permitless carry bill.
How could this bill change the current requirements to purchase a gun in Florida?
Although Florida does not require a permit to purchase a firearm, gun owners still need to apply for a license to carry a concealed firearm — a process that currently involves specific background checks and training.
More than two and a half million Floridians have obtained a permit to carry a concealed weapon, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture.
However, the newly proposed legislation would eliminate the need for these concealed carry permits, allowing residents (and non-residents who meet Florida's requirements) to carry concealed weapons in the state without needing to apply for a license.
Under the bill, initially proposed by Speaker Paul Renner, gun owners wishing to concealed carry would only need to have a valid ID on them while in possession of the firearm.
Although the proposed permitless carry would make it easier for Florida gun owners to carry their weapons, the bill would have no effect on the current requirements for purchasing an actual firearm.
Therefore, those already prohibited from buying a gun under the current law will still be prohibited. The state's current list of requirements for purchasing a firearm, including a minimum age of 21, would not change.
Where does the bill stand now?
The Florida House passed the bill on Mar. 24 with a 76–32 vote. It was then sent to the Senate for further consideration.
On Mar. 30, the Senate passed the bill on a 27-13 vote, bringing the bill one step closer to the desk of Gov. DeSantis who has already expressed that he would sign it.
Parents of the Parkland victims weighed in on a proposal to eliminate concealed weapons permits in Florida. NBC 6's Niko Clemmons reports
How has the community reacted to the bill?
Since the announcement of the bill, local leaders, politicians and activists and families of gun violence victims have spoken out from both sides of the aisle with their opinions on the proposed legislation.
Local Politicians and Leaders
In the initial announcement of the bill, Speaker Paul Renner called the move “a universal right that applies to each and every man or woman regardless of race, gender, creed or background."
While Republican leaders like Gov. Ron DeSantis have expressed support for the idea, Democrats have argued that the bill could worsen Florida's existing gun violence issue.
"I just don't feel that's a very responsible thing to do because training and safety should be No. 1 with all responsible gun owners," said Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, a Democrat from Parkland who was the mayor of the city when 17 people were killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School nearly five years ago.
“Untrained carry is what it is,” Hunschofsky added. “You are not making our communities, our schools or any places safer with this.”
U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat from Broward County who previously served as a Parkland city commissioner and state representative, also spoke out against the measure, saying it "proposes more guns as a solution to a problem that didn’t exist."
Gun Safety Activists and Gun Violence Victims
Outside of the Florida Capitol on Thursday, a gun safety group laid out a sea of white roses — one for each person killed by gunfire in the state last year: 2,849.
The display was produced by the group Moms Demand Action, loud in their opposition to Floridians carrying guns without a concealed weapons license.
"Any attempt to dismantle the permitting system that we have in place will not stand in the state of Florida and our constituents in the state, citizens don’t want that either," said Wendy Moloy of Moms Demand Action. "Our lawmakers are not listening to us."
Emotions also ran high inside the Capitol, with the permitless carry bill passing another senate committee.
"Teenagers have seen their own best friend get shot in the (expletive) head," said Seneca Bristol, a high school student from the Gulf Coast.
Parents of Parkland shooting victims have also been vocal about their opposition to the bill.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the 2018 mass shooting, took to social media to speak out against the proposal saying it will make the state's next mass shooting more likely.
Parents Manuel and Patricia Oliver, who lost their son Joaquin in the Parkland massacre, have also expressed their disapproval of the bill, saying it will put more Floridians in danger.
"Knowing that the person that will own the gun now won’t need to register the gun, how is that convenient for the police?" asked Manuel Oliver. "How is that convenient for any investigation?"
Local Law Enforcement Officials
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey argues that people who want to do harm to others won't be stopped by the permit requirement.
"Criminals don't get a permit. Not one of them. They don't care about obeying the law," Ivey said. "Our law-abiding citizens have that immediate right, guarantee and freedom to protect themselves."
Another authoritative voice in favor of the bill is Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
"I’ve been doing this a long time," Gualtieri said. "I have never met anybody that says they are going to go and rob a store, break into a house and carjack somebody and says, wait a minute, let me go get my concealed carry permit first. It doesn’t work that way."
Gualtieri says law-abiding citizens are going to continue to abide by the law, and others will not.
NBC 6's Victor Jorges has more on what this would mean and reaction from both supporters and critics are reacting.
How do Florida's gun laws compare to other states?
The "constitutional carry" movement has become popular among conservative states with about half of the country already allowing permitless carry.
Should the bill pass, Florida will join states like Texas, Georgia and Alabama and become the 26th state to eliminate concealed weapons permits.
Alternatively, states like New York have tried to impose laws that further regulate who can carry a concealed weapon in public.
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a New York law in June 2022 that required people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a license to carry one in public.
According to the ruling, which expanded gun rights nationwide, the New York law violated the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”