DeSantis signs concealed weapons bill
FILE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting at The Venetian hotel-casino on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Las Vegas. DeSantis is preparing to deliver the last State of the State speech of his first term, on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, as he seeks reelection and a possible 2024 presidential run. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a measure that will allow Floridians to carry guns without concealed-weapons licenses.
The Republican-controlled Senate gave final approval to the measure (HB 543) on Thursday, about a week after the House passed it.
The bill will do away with a decades-old licensing process, which has included requiring that people undergo firearms training and background screening to carry concealed weapons.
The bill will require people carrying concealed firearms to have valid identification and “display such identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer.” The measure also includes various changes designed to bolster school safety, including providing additional money for school hardening.
The governor signed the proposal without holding a media appearance. Sen. Jay Collins, a Tampa Republican who sponsored the bill, called it “monumental.”
Collins said in a tweet, “You don’t need a permission slip from the government to exercise your constitutional rights. We are restoring the Second Amendment here in the Free State of Florida.”
Democrats criticized the bill signing and have contended the measure would make Floridians less safe.
“Permitless carry increases the risk of both intentional violence and unintentional shootings, with the facts clearly showing an increase of fatalities and gun crimes in the dozens of states that have passed similar laws,” Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens, said in a statement Monday.
Many supporters of the bill labeled it “constitutional carry,” referring to Second Amendment rights. Some gun-rights advocates have disputed the constitutional carry label, arguing the bill should have gone further to include open carry, which would not require weapons to be concealed.
Matt Collins, a former firearms lobbyist who lives in Central Florida, said in a statement that the bill not including open carry is “embarrassing” for DeSantis.
“The governor is weak if he cannot even get his own supermajority legislature to add part of his agenda, which is open carry, to the permitless carry bill,” Collins said.