The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee has approved a bill (SB 150) in Florida that would allow individuals to carry concealed firearms without licenses. The bill’s supporters, including the National Rifle Association, the Florida Sheriffs Association, and the Florida Police Chiefs Association, view this as a significant step in protecting the constitutional right to bear arms. The bill eliminates the requirement for gun owners to obtain state concealed-weapons licenses, including training courses and background checks.
The opponents of the bill, including Democrats and gun-control advocates, believe that eliminating the training requirement is a dangerous move. However, proponents argue that the training courses do not make anyone a sharpshooter or gun expert, and responsible gun owners should train themselves. The bill also requires people carrying guns to be able to show valid identification upon request by a law enforcement officer.
The bill has been referred to as the “permitless carry” or “constitutional carry” bill, recognizing the constitutional right to bear arms. Some gun rights advocates believe the bill should go further by allowing open carry, which would not require firearms to be concealed. However, others argue that openly carrying firearms could make people uncomfortable, and conceal carry would be a better option.
Despite opposition, Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated that he would approve the concealed-carry bill if it reaches his desk. While some have criticized his lack of support for open carry, his stance on the issue has not diminished his status as a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
In addition to the gun issue, the bill includes measures to improve school safety by providing $42 million to the state Department of Education for school hardening grant programs. Proponents of the bill argue that it is a necessary step in protecting the constitutional rights of individuals while ensuring school safety.