Republicans in Florida are pushing to remove permits on concealed firearms in their state. Florida House Speaker Paul Renner unveiled his conservative bill on Monday, which would remove requirements for a permit and training to carry concealed guns.
During his announcement, Renner called the bill “central to our freedom,” and added that it’s time for the state to remove that “government permission slip to carry.”
The bill (HB 543), which has been dubbed the ‘constitutional carry’ law by its supporters, has been endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Senate President Kathleen Passidomo. According to the Orlando Sentinel, DeSantis said he wanted to see permitless carry the law of Florida before he leaves office.
According to Tallahassee Democrat, Florida has 2.6 million concealed weapons permits. Residents who receive a permit must pass a background check and undergo firearms training. The new bill wouldn’t change the current laws but instead would lift the need for a state permit with firearms training.
“I think we can assume that our citizens are going to do the right thing when it comes to carrying and bearing arms,” Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis told Tallahassee Democrat.
Although popular among republicans, the bill has met major pushback from critics who believe the proposal is unsafe to the community and tourists who might visit the state.
“This is not constitutional carry. This is untrained carry,” Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky told Orlando Sentinel. Changing a state law that’s been on the books for three decades should be “based on data and facts.”
The organization Prevent Gun Violence Florida also shared a similar sentiment.
“Permitless carry laws endanger the public by removing vital safety measures designed to ensure that those carrying concealed weapons have been properly trained and vetted,” the organization said in a statement.
“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 announcement of HB 543 comes just on the heels of the state’s seventh mass shooting in January. On Monday, at least 10 people were injured during a drive-by shooting in Lakeland Florida, which police believed to be a targeted event.
The proposal is set to get in front of Florida lawmakers during sessions that begin in March. If the bill passes, Florida would become the 26th state to allow permitless carry.
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