More than half the country now allows the concealed carry of firearms without the need for a permission slip from the government.
Florida became the 26th state – the majority state – Monday morning when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed CS/HB 543 at 8:15 a.m.
The new law takes effect on July 1st, 2023.
“It’s a huge step forward for Florida and a monumental step forward for the country,” said Art Thomm, state director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
Thomm replaced Florida’s longtime NRA lobbyist, Marion Hammer, in June. In just months, Thomm got an unlicensed concealed-carry bill through both chambers and onto DeSantis’ desk.
The new law allows law-abiding Floridians to carry concealed handguns without seeking a Concealed Weapon or Firearm License, or CWFL, from the government. However, the state’s successful CWFL program will remain in effect. Today, more than 2.4 million Floridians have a CWFL.
The new law does not include a training requirement, which was a major concern for its critics. But neither does it change who is eligible to either purchase or carry a firearm. Its proponents say it “levels the playing field” for law-abiding Floridians.
CS/HB 54 does not allow for the open carry of arms, which is why some said the legislation is not “constitutional carry” and did not go far enough. Florida State Rep. Mike Beltran, a Republican who represents parts of Hillsborough and Manatee counties, tried to fix the House bill this week by adding an open-carry amendment.
Beltran is a staunch Second-Amendment supporter. Unfortunately, his amendment could have caused a multitude of problems, including killing the bill in the Senate, and there were other concerns. His amendment would have required open carriers to use a “level two or greater retention device” holster. This would have made Florida the only state in the union where the government tells gun owners what type of holster they must use, and the penalty for using the wrong holster would have been a felony. Open carriers could have been stopped by police and charged with a felony if their holster did not comply with state law. Even worse, the amendment did not define what a level-two retention device even was.
Additionally, Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said she would not support a bill that included open carry because the Florida Sheriffs Association did not support open carry.
“I will support what the Sheriffs of this state, who are the experts, support. I don’t know one end of a gun from another, so I certainly want to support the experts,” she told the media. “The reality is, this bill basically says you do not need the government’s permission to carry your weapon. That, in my mind, is constitutional carry.”
The law DeSantis signed Monday was supported by NRA, GOA, NAGR and Florida Carry, Inc., pro-gun groups which have all promised to seek open carry legislation.
Lee Williams is a board member of Florida Carry, Inc.
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About Lee Williams
Lee Williams, who is also known as “The Gun Writer,” is the chief editor of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project. Until recently, he was also an editor for a daily newspaper in Florida. Before becoming an editor, Lee was an investigative reporter at newspapers in three states and a U.S. Territory. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a police officer. Before becoming a cop, Lee served in the Army. He’s earned more than a dozen national journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. Lee is an avid tactical shooter.