Florida is no stranger to lax legislation on the purchase and possession of firearms, and starting July 1, legal gun owners will no longer require a permit to be able to carry concealed weapons by way of the Gov. Ron DeSantis administration’s passing of House Bill (HB) 543 on Apr. 3. This bill has made Florida the 26th state to no longer require a safety or background check for concealed carry. Coupled with how Florida also does not require a permit to purchase a firearm, it’s becoming increasingly easy to be a gun owner in the state.
Introduced on Jan. 30, HB 543 was originally drafted with the intention of unshackling armament regulations in Florida entirely, allowing for permitless concealed and open carry for all legal gun owners. However, this amendment was eventually axed upon its adoption into Florida law and only the permitless concealed carry component came to pass. Permitless concealed carry does not entitle a gun owner to bring their firearm into places like law enforcement facilities, courthouses, governmental meeting places or schools. This bill was signed into law by Gov. DeSantis behind closed doors with representatives from the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Gov. DeSantis urged the Floridian Republican supermajority to pass permitless concealed carry—a call met with outcry by Democratic legislators, with several senators noting the poor timing of this bill being passed due to the Nashville school shooting just days before.
“It’s shameful,” said state Sen. Lori Berman (D) in a Politico article. “It’s disrespectful to the Parkland families and every other Floridian who has lost a loved one to gun violence.”
During an interview with MSNBC’s Jen Psaki, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) made the claim that Florida Republicans “don’t care about our kids because if they did, they would ban these damn weapons of war.”
“That’s extreme in the extreme,” Newsom said. “That’s not surprising for a guy that doesn’t believe that a young girl should have the freedom to determine her own reproductive future.”
While Democrats express their dissent toward HB 543 for being too radical of an extension of the Second Amendment, Republicans scorn DeSantis for not going far enough.
In an interview with Florida Politics, Sean Themea—Chief of Staff for conservative group Young Americans for Liberty—called HB 543 “milquetoast.”
“By signing a bill that keeps open carry illegal, DeSantis is putting political expediency ahead of the full Second Amendment rights of Floridians,” Themea insisted. “This was a chance for him to stand up to the Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) in his own legislature and demand a clean bill. If he can’t do that in his own state, how can gun owners trust him to do that at the national level?”
Themea refers to DeSantis’ supposed bid for the 2024 presidential election, through which critics accuse DeSantis of motivating his appeals to the MAGA right in a bid to steal the Republican nomination from former President Donald Trump.