Florida could soon become the 26th state to allow individuals to carry concealed. loaded guns anywhere without a permit — a growing trend . That has gun protection groups alarmed.
Republican leaders in the . Florida Legislature have said they intend to introduce and advance such . legislation when the upcoming legislative session convenes on March 7.
Conservatives and gun rights activists call . The section of the law “constitutional carry,” even though no provision in. The Constitution allows for the right to carry concealed, unlicensed weapons. Gun safety and gun control activists, as well as neutral groups. Prefer to label the section of the law “unauthorized carry.”
Asked if state Senate President Kathleen Pacidomo would help introduce a bill. that would allow people to carry concealed-load guns in public . Without a concealed carry permit. A spokeswoman replied, “Yes.”
“President Pasidomo supports the permitless carry law,” said spokeswoman Katy Beta.
Republican state House Speaker Paul Renner has also suggested. He plans to push such a proposal through his chamber.
“The Florida House will work to expand . The constitutional right that gives law-abiding citizens . The ability to defend themselves,” Renner said in a written statement in . Response to questions from NBC News.
Lawmakers had not yet filed any such bills Thursday. But Renner aides said the introduction of at least one was imminent.
GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis said last month that the issue has emerged as a priority for him in 2023.
“It was something I’ve always supported,” DeSantis told the Tampa Bay Times in December. “The last two years, this has not been a priority for legislative leadership. But we have talked about it … and it will be something that will be done in the regular session.”
DeSantis, who is believed to be considering a run for president in 2024. Has promised to pass such a bill before he leaves office.
A spokeswoman for Renner suggested . The legislation could resemble a bill in the 2022 session, HB 103, which proposes to “remove a need. That a concealed firearm carry license be required to carry such a firearm.”
By winning supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature in the November election. Florida Republicans will be able to overcome any . Democratic opposition and pass legislation of their choice.
A spokesman for DeSantis did . Not respond to questions about the timing and circumstances of a. Possible unauthorized carry bill in the upcoming legislative session.
Under Florida law, people who want to carry a concealed gun in public must get a concealed. Weapons license from the state. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Eliminates the “constitutional carry” and “unauthorized carry” law requirements. It is illegal to carry a weapon in public in Florida.
When lawmakers. Enact such legislation next session, Florida would become the 26th state to do so. Extending a national trend in which a growing number of states are allowing the practice.
Other states where lawmakers have introduced. Permitless carry laws in the past two . Years include Virginia, Louisiana, South Carolina and. Nebraska, though those efforts have failed and face an uphill battle. Nebraska Republican lawmakers this week introduced a permit-less carry bill . That experts say may have a stronger chance of passing this year, though it still faces. Obstacles to progress because . Republicans do not have a supermajority in the Legislature.
In 2021, Arizona, Iowa, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah enacted . laws allowing permitless carry, and, last year, so did Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and Ohio.
Florida, yet, is among a small group of four solid red states — the others are North Carolina. South Carolina and Louisiana — that still don’t allow the practice.
The widening landscape has alarmed gun safety and gun control groups, who argue . That such bills, either by design or circumstance. Would override existing laws requiring background checks and firearms training.
For example, in Florida, most gun owners are required. To complete a firearms training course with . State-certified instructors as part of their application for a concealed carry license. Get rid of the permitless carry law that requires that.
“Unauthorized carry causes harm and there’s data to prove it,” said Shannon . Watts, board member of the gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety.
He points to many studies showing that states. That have enforced permitless carry have seen increases in both . Gun violence and police shootings. They include an Everytown analysis last year. That showed handgun . Homicide rates rose 11% in states that weakened their gun permit regulations. Also,
A study last year by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that police shootings increased 13% from 2014 to 2020 in the 10 states that passed permitless carry laws.
“The gun lobby says we don’t need new laws; We just need to enforce the laws that are already on the books,” said Alison Anderman, senior counsel and director of local policy at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
“Unauthorized carry does the opposite,” he added. “It prevents us from enforcing existing laws.”