‘Constitutional carry’ new law of the land

Photo courtesy: Dalilah Posely

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed into law House Bill 543, allowing people to purchase guns without a permit. Florida will be the 26th state that will not require citizens to take traditional classes to earn a license to carry a firearm.

DeSantis said he believes it’s essential to acknowledge and strengthen Second Amendment rights by allowing citizens the right to bear arms and carry a concealed weapon without training or paying fees. The bill will go into effect on July 1.

Michael Binder, a professor of political science at University of North Florida, conducted a poll to get public opinion on whether or not there was support for the bill. Binder found it shocking that many Floridians rejected permitless concealed carry, with 77% of people who responded opposed to the bill, while 22% of Floridians supported the legislation.

“Not only is there opposition to this ‘constitutional carry’ bill, but folks seem to feel uneased about it, with the majority saying they strongly oppose the bill. Even among Republicans, most people are against carrying weapons without a permit,” Binder said at a press conference.

While some Floridians are against the new law, others are excited about the change and revenue the bill will bring to many local and private businesses such as gun shops.

Eddie Cruz, an assistant store manager at Kevin’s, a local gun shop, says business has been “tremendous” since the bill’s passage.

“Sales have increased drastically; I can only imagine how busy our store will get once the law is put into effect. Before the bill passed, a concealed license was required to carry a gun. Most folks say they didn’t bother buying a gun because going through the processes was too much, and the fees were a hassle,” Cruz said.

Until July 1, under chapter 790 of the Florida Gun Statutes, carrying a concealed weapon without a license is a third-degree felony with a possible penalty of five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.

Officials have said this law will decrease arrests for carrying a firearm without proper identification.

Paul Roberts, a local hunter, says he believes people will continue to find a way to go against the law even with this new legislation.

“People don’t realize that there is no difference in the law besides you are not paying money for a laminate piece. People will continue to buy firearms illegally if they can’t get them legally. Let’s focus on alternatives besides banning concealed licenses,” Roberts said.

Florida has issued more than 2.6 million concealed weapon permits, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The new law does not impact the background check and three-day waiting period required to purchase a gun or change where you are restricted from carrying a weapon or firearm even if you have a license.