Ron DeSantis and state Republicans are poised to pass a big expansion of gun rights in Florida—and some people are pissed. But critics are completely off-base.
The legislation in question is what’s known as “constitutional carry.” Right now, you can concealed carry a firearm in Florida, but you have to pay a hefty fee and jump through hoops before you can do so. This bill would make it so you no longer need to do any of that to conceal carry. “The Constitution is my gun permit” and all that. However, importantly, it would still be illegal for certain groups of ineligible people, like violent felons, to carry guns.
“I believe Floridians have the right to bear arms to protect themselves, their families and their property without government interference,” state Rep. Chuck Brannan, who is authoring the legislation, said. “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.”
“[Criminals are] breaking into houses, they’re breaking into cars, and they’re carrying guns illegally,” he added. “They don’t care what the law says. We are only giving our law-abiding citizens a simpler way to have the ability to protect themselves, their families, their homes and their places of business.”
Of course, like with any expansion of gun rights, it’s prompting panic and dire warnings from the anti-gun crowd.
On the same day DeSantis announced permitless carry, another mass shooting changed countless people's lives. This is not normal, and the solution isn’t guns in all of our spaces. Weakening sensible gun laws leads to more tragedy, and more communities, like Lakeland, devastated.
— Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost (@RepMaxwellFrost) January 31, 2023
INSANE: Ron DeSantis wants Florida residents to carry firearms without a permit. In Jan alone, there’s been 49 mass shootings and more than 3,400 gun deaths, including 138 dead children.
If Ron DeSantis gets what he wants, expect more dead Americans.
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) January 30, 2023
Anti-gun activist David Hogg, a survivor of the tragic Parkland school shooting, even invoked the tragedy at his school as an argument against the move:
DeSantis isn’t a great guy. But introducing permit-less carry right before the 5 year anniversary of one of the largest school shootings in American history in Parkland is a new low.
— David Hogg ☮️ (@davidhogg111) January 30, 2023
Meanwhile, Ryan Petty, whose daughter died in the shooting, took the opposite stance:
Hey Gavin, my daughter Alaina was killed at Parkland and I support permit-less carry in Florida. If my daughter were alive she’d be carrying, because she would be defenseless in a gun free zone.
Sit this one out. https://t.co/htDcUnVK73
— Ryan Petty (@rpetty) February 1, 2023
Before you go believing the hype and thinking that this is going to turn Florida into the Wild West, remember that 24 other states already have this kind of system. Many of them, like Alaska, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, have murder and gun homicide rates significantly below the national average.
And, while critics foam at the mouth about how dangerous this is, a RAND Corporation literature review of the top studies available found some studies showing a decrease in crime, some showing an increase, and others showing no effect. It concluded that the evidence is “inconclusive,” and thus does not support the notion that constitutional carry makes states more dangerous.
A permitting process can serve to block poor people from being able to defend themselves. People who work minimum wage jobs can’t afford to take a whole Saturday off, attend and pay for an expensive training class, wait additional hours at a county office, and pay the government just for the right to protect themselves. And that means these laws merely work exactly as they were initially intended to—to block poor white people and people of color from gun ownership and self-defense.
Even the Florida Sherriff’s Association—not a group you’d think of as “soft on crime”—has thrown its support behind the move.
“Criminals don’t go get a permit, not one of them,” Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said. “They don’t care about obeying the law. Our law-abiding citizens have that immediate [legal] guarantee and the freedom to go protect themselves. We as Florida sheriffs stand solidly behind this. And we stand behind the oath that we took to protect the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Florida.”
So why shouldn’t people be able to exercise their constitutional rights without a permission slip from the government? This move seems like common sense to me.