Governor Ron DeSantis has declared his support for the controversial measure that would allow Floridians to carry guns openly in public. The announcement was made during a book tour stop in Jacksonville Beach where DeSantis was approached by Luis Valdes, Florida director of Gun Owners of America. Valdes asked whether the governor would support the measure and if he would have it added to current bills. To Valdes’ delight, DeSantis replied, “Yeah, absolutely,” in a recorded 10-second interaction that has since been shared with the Tampa Bay Times. However, the measure faces opposition from some law enforcement officials and would go further than any bill currently filed for the upcoming legislative session. Despite his endorsement, DeSantis expressed doubt that the measure will pass.
When asked about the authenticity of the recording, the governor’s office declined to comment, emphasizing that they had no involvement in coordinating the book tour. However, spokesperson Bryan Griffin stated that Governor DeSantis strongly supports the constitutional right to bear arms and has publicly expressed his hope to sign constitutional carry legislation in the upcoming legislative session. Griffin also pointed to a remark made by DeSantis last August, where he expressed his support for “constitutional carry” but noted that it would require the Legislature to pass it and get it to his desk.
DeSantis announced his support for enacting “constitutional carry” in Florida
Last year, DeSantis announced his support for enacting “constitutional carry” in Florida, a term that refers to the ability to carry a weapon without a permit. The legislation that was subsequently filed, however, fell short of the expectations of some gun rights advocates. While permitless concealed carry would be permitted, the bill did not include provisions for open carry. In the 25 states where permitless carry is already in effect, individuals are allowed to carry weapons openly and concealed in public. Under the proposed legislation, Floridians would be exempted from the current concealed carry permit requirements that include weapons training, a background check, fingerprinting, and a $97 fee for first-time applicants. However, the bill would still prohibit those who are otherwise unable to carry a weapon from doing so.
The battle over gun rights in Florida continues to escalate as the state’s lawmakers consider a controversial new bill that would expand gun rights for Floridians. But the proposed legislation is sparking heated debate, with gun safety advocates warning that the lack of an additional background check could allow dangerous individuals to obtain firearms, while others argue that not requiring training will make communities less safe. Despite these concerns, the bill is moving forward at a rapid pace, with lawmakers fast-tracking it to the House floor for a vote before the legislative session even officially begins. However, the bill has only one other committee stop in the Senate and has been voted for strictly on party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats against. While supporters of the bill are praising it as an expansion of Second Amendment constitutional rights, some members of pro-gun groups are criticizing the Republican-dominated Legislature for failing to keep pace with other states on the issue of open carry.
Despite repeated attempts to obtain comments from Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, she has remained unresponsive to inquiries regarding the governor’s recent recording. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Renner has remained steadfast in his support of expanding constitutional rights, citing the permitless carry bill as a significant achievement. Florida, known for its strict gun laws, prohibits open carry of weapons in nearly all circumstances. Similarly, states like New York and Illinois also have similar restrictions.
While California has some exceptions, it is largely prohibited except in certain counties. However, some believe that the permitless carry bill doesn’t go far enough, including Errol Valdes, the director of Gun Owners of America. Valdes has been working tirelessly to get lawmakers to adopt open carry legislation, and he believes that the governor’s recent statement may be the catalyst that finally spurs action. Valdes has expressed confidence that if the governor becomes a vocal supporter of open carry, the Legislature will be more inclined to act, and he remains hopeful that the recorded statement will be enough to make this happen.
In the state of Florida, secretly recording another person is a serious offense that could result in a third-degree felony charge. However, if the communication is oral and occurs in a public setting where there is no expectation of privacy, consent is not required for recording. During the Senate committee meeting on February 20th, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri expressed his support for the permitless carry measure, but made it clear that he was against open carry in Florida. When asked about Governor DeSantis’ position on open carry legislation, Gualtieri declined to comment on hypotheticals, stating that he would only discuss the matter if the permitless carry bill was amended to address open carry. The Florida Sheriffs Association, of which Gualtieri is a member of the Legislative Committee, has no official stance on open carry.