The following editorial appeared in The Daily Sun on Feb 4, 2023.
OUR POSITION: The right to bear arms is the cry from Republican leaders in Tallahassee pushing a bill to remove the requirement for permits or training to carry a concealed weapon.
Florida House Speaker Paul Renner — egged on by Gov. Ron DeSantis — has introduced a measure removing Florida requirements for a permit and training to carry a concealed gun.
With Republicans holding a solid majority in the Legislature, we see little challenge to the bill even though we have concerns. In all likelihood, by the end of the spring session in Tallahassee, anyone can carry a concealed weapon without undergoing any training or bothering to buy a permit.
Lawmakers cite the cost and delay in getting a permit as big reasons to pass constitutional carry. Permits can range from $97 to $119 and most people will spend up to $100 for weapons training. Then, they have to wait six to eight weeks to actually acquire the permit.
Local law enforcement leaders laud the proposal.
“I am in support of permit-less, constitutional carry,” Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell said.
Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman believes the constitutional carry bill is long overdue.
“I wholeheartedly support constitutional carry,” Hoffman said. “For far too long Floridians have had to exercise their constitutional rights after getting permission from their government. It is the bill of rights after all not the bill of needs.”
The groundswell of support for constitutional carry is not surprising. Doing away with the headache and cost of applying for a permit has been a goal of gun advocates for a long time in Florida. The surprise is that it took this long for DeSantis to make the move. Perhaps the fact this is his last term influenced the decision — or perhaps the fact it builds on his national resume´.
The idea that the bill will make it easier for people to get a gun or that people who have no training would be reckless with a loaded pistol does not bother supporters.
“Most people unfamiliar with firearms will seek training,” Hoffman said. “Many people, such as myself, had a gun before I had a bicycle so why should law abiding citizens be restricted from protecting themselves?”
Hoffman pointed out that during the height of the pandemic the permit process shut down and “people could not lawfully protect themselves because they couldn’t get then Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to issue them a permit. This was long overdue.”
Our biggest concern isn’t the lack of a permit — which is just a matter of paying a fee. The biggest concern is the lack of training. Not every person who wants a gun has the familiarity with firearms as Hoffman touts.
Renner, like Hoffman, says gun owners are aware of gun safety.
He, and other supporters of the bill, espouse the mantra that criminals don’t have to get a permit to carry a gun so why should ordinary citizens have to deal with the process.
Some fear this bill would open the door to further erode gun safety in Florida by allowing open carry. They envision a state with people walking the streets with holstered weapons — a wild west scenario if you will.
So far, that step appears to be stuck in neutral.
Prummell, for one, would not be in favor of open carry.
“I do not see a need for open carry in the state of Florida,” the Charlotte County sheriff said.
Open carry, no, for now. Concealed weapons with no permit or training? Count on it.
This Letter to the Editor was also published on Feb 4, 2023. Will our legislators ever listen to us?
Constitutional carry is a big mistake
Editor: I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that article about Constitutional Carry. We have mass killings almost everyday and they want to make it easier to conceal carry a gun?
There is a reason for the permit. You have to take a training class to be sure you know how to operate the weapon safely and there is a background check. Why would you want any Tom, Dick or Harry to carry a gun?
We must stop this from being made into a law in Florida.
Linda Emmi, Port Charlotte
Image Credits: A supporter of open-carry gun laws in Austin in January 2015. (Eric Gay/AP)