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FL Legislature approves permitless gun bill; no license, no training course required


FL Legislature approves permitless gun bill; no license, no training course required

Mar 30, 2023 | 4:45 pm ET
By Diane Rado
FL Legislature approves permitless gun bill; no license, no training course required
A training class on carrying concealed weapons. The FL Legislature has approved a bill that would not require training. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

At a time when the nation has been shell-shocked by school shootings and other gun deaths, the Florida Legislature on Thursday approved a permitless gun bill that would allow people who carry concealed weapons forego a license or training course.

The state Senate voted 27-13, with Republican Ileana Garcia of Miami-Dade joining with Democrats.

The state House had already voted last Friday, so the legislation moves on to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. The governor has already said that he would sign the bill.

With supermajorities in the House and Senate, GOP members rolled over the Democrats, who believe Florida will be a much less safe place to live in following the legislation.

The Senate vote came Thursday as an assailant this week at a private Christian school in Nashville shot and killed three children and three adult staff members. Mass shooting are at 131 this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive 2023.

Currently Floridians who want to carry a concealed weapon are required to obtain a permit through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. That requires paying fees amounting to $97, providing fingerprints, getting an additional background check, and taking a gun safety course.

The Florida Senate in a statement said that the legislation “does not affect laws relating to the purchase of a firearm and will not allow anyone prohibited from possessing a firearm to carry concealed. Florida continues to require full and complete background checks when a firearm is purchased. That requirement was expanded in 2018, requiring a three-day waiting period for all kinds of firearms, not just handguns, or until the background check is completed, whichever is later. Moreover, a person carrying concealed without a license will still be required to obey existing laws prohibiting carrying in places like schools, certain athletic events, and correctional facilities, among others.”

The National Rifle Association of America said in a statement that Florida will become the 26th state in the nation “where law-abiding residents do not need to pay additional fees and apply for a government permit to exercise their right to defend themselves and their families with a firearm outside their homes …

“Florida will join Georgia, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming, in allowing law-abiding individuals to carry a concealed handgun without a government-issued permit.”

Gun safety advocates say the measure will make Florida a scarier place to live.

The Florida Senate’s decision to pass this reckless bill is a complete abdication of their duty to keep Floridians safe,” said Kris Brown, the president of the nonprofit gun-safety group called Brady.

“This dangerous legislation will only make Florida, a state with a tragic history of mass shootings, even more unsafe. Permitless carry has been proven to increase gun violence, yet they chose to ignore the facts and put the lives of Floridians at risk. This is not what Floridians want or need. The majority of Floridians, including gun owners, support common-sense gun safety measures like background checks and permits to carry concealed firearms.”

Throughout the spring session, gun rights advocates had been critical of GOP lawmakers for refusing to add a measure that would allow for the open carrying of weapons of Florida to the permitless carry or “constitutional carry” bill as they call it. But that effort fizzled.

Phoenix senior reporter Mitch Perry contributed.