Do you support Permitless Carry? Why or why not? This 2023 Florida bill is not about allowing concealed carry of a firearm. All 50 U.S. states now allow carrying a concealed firearm. And 25 U.S. states now have existing Permitless Carry. While 34 states have shall-issue Concealed Carry laws at this time, commonly referred to as right-to-carry states, they account for about three-quarters of the U.S. population. That’s a lot of folks.
A 2023 bill to strengthen the right to self-defense in Florida recognizes the right of any law-abiding adult who is at least 21-years-old and legally eligible to obtain a carry permit, to carry a handgun without first having to obtain government permission. This ensures that citizens have their right to self defense without red tape, delays, or fees. It does not change who is eligible to obtain a carry permit. It also does not affect previously issued permits, and allows citizens who still wish to obtain a permit in order to carry in other states recognizing Florida’s permits, to do so.
Research Reports and Data on Permitless Carry
Will this Permitless Carry increase violent crimes and homicides? The Rand Foundation research report for January 2023 states that there is “inconclusive evidence about the effect of Permitless Carry on increased total homicides and that the evidence that shall-issue concealed carry laws may increase violent crimes is limited.”
Two studies separately estimated the effects of Permitless Carry laws on homicides or murders, and both also found uncertain effects (Knopov et al., 2019; Siegel et al., 2019.) So, the data seem to generally agree that there is inconclusive evidence for the effect of Permitless Carry laws on total homicides.
The Problem: The Gun or the Criminal?
Some people feel the gun itself is the problem. On the other hand, others believe that as a law-abiding citizen, a gun is a tool to help protect those things and people we love and that the answer to criminals with guns is good, law-abiding citizens who are there to help protect themselves and other citizens. Some point out that any tool, including guns and steak knives, can be used for good or bad. They say the focus should be on the individual, mental health issues, and the individual’s existing stability and possible danger, and preventing criminals from having and using guns, following legal, due process.
CAVEAT: Please understand that I am not a lawyer, am not a law enforcement officer, and did my layman’s research about these topics and related factors solely to be helpful and shed some light on this very important Florida bill and subject. I am not offering legal opinions or legal advice. I want to shed my experiences as an organizational director of legal affairs, with university training in law, my lessons learned from two law enforcement academies for civilians, and my teaching legal considerations for concealed carriers and university law for about 20 years. (I did not play a lawyer on TV.)
POINT: A criminal intent on wrongdoing will get a weapon or gun from someplace and commit the crime. Those that follow the law understand that there is a constitutional and God-given right to keep and bear arms for self-defense and to legally use guns. Law-abiding citizens should not have to ask or pay any government for permission to have and use a gun (or steak knife) for their self-defense and to protect themselves and their families.
A Criminal Is A Criminal Who Does Not Seek Any Permit
One of the most authoritative voices in favor of Florida Permitless Carry is Pinellas County, FL, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. “I’ve been doing this a long time,” Gualtieri said. “I have never met anybody that says they are going to go and rob a store, break into a house, and carjack somebody and says, wait a minute, let me go get my concealed carry permit first. It doesn’t work that way. The people who are law-abiding are going to abide by the law, and they are going to follow the laws, and those who are not are not.”
Florida House Speaker Paul Renner has said, “Florida led the nation in allowing concealed carry, and that extends today as we remove the government permission slip to require a permit to exercise a constitutional right.”
The bill has gained support from many groups, including the support of the Florida Sheriff’s Association (FSA), the Florida Police Chief’s Association, and the Florida Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. The president of the FSA Sheriff Al Nienhuis, and Sheriff Wayne Ivey have voiced their support for bringing this bill forward.
Most Existing Permitless Carry Laws Exclude The Convicted
Even with Permitless Carry already in place in 25 states as of now, those convicted within the last five to ten years of certain crimes are disqualified and cannot carry a gun in most of these states and/or places, e.g., Assault Causing Bodily Injury, Deadly Conduct, Terroristic Threat, Disorderly Conduct. In order to legally carry in Tennessee without a permit, for example, an individual must have had no DUIs in the last ten years.
POINT: There are some existing legal protections against criminals in almost all of the present Permitless Carry laws and states.
It is my understanding that the present Florida bills would have no effect on the current requirements for purchasing an actual firearm. Of course, the final bill is still being formulated and decided. It seems that those already prohibited from buying a gun under the current law will still be prohibited. The state’s current requirements for purchasing a firearm include a minimum age of 21, and that would not change in the present bill. Florida does not require a permit to purchase a firearm, nor is there a license/permit that exempts any person from the required Background Check. Restrictions on carrying in schools and at athletic events will still be prohibited, and there probably will be additional protections included in the final bill. Florida law requires a completed Background Check before a Federal Firearm Licensee may transfer a firearm to a non-licensed person. And there is a Waiting Period of three days required by law, excluding weekends and state holidays, between purchase and receipt/delivery of all firearms. Some Florida counties and areas require up to a five-day waiting period. These will most likely remain in the bill.
Highlights of the Proposed Permitless Carry Bill
The Florida Police Benevolent Association has stated the following about the bill:
- A citizen in Florida will be able to carry concealed as long as the person meets the statutory requirements for a concealed weapons permit. The person must follow all current concealed carry laws and have valid identification while carrying;
- Open carry is not permitted under the proposal;
- The three-day waiting period will remain constitutionally in place for people without a concealed weapons permit;
- Reciprocity agreements will still require a permit in certain states. Non-Florida residents may carry concealed if they meet Florida’s statutory requirement for receiving a concealed carry permit and have valid identification.
The F.B.I. NICS Database and Background Checks
Federal law gives states the option of conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases or having the checks performed by the FBI using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. Florida is a point of contact state for the NICS database, meaning that firearms dealers in Florida must initiate the Background Check required by both federal and Florida law by contacting the Florida state agency, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE.) So upon receiving a request for a Background Check, the FDLE is required to review any available records to determine if the buyer or transferee is prohibited from purchasing a firearm because they have been:
- Convicted of a felony;
- Convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence that renders them prohibited from purchasing a firearm;
- Had an adjudication of guilt withheld or imposition of sentence suspended on any felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; or
- Been subject to certain court Orders and adjudications related to a serious mental condition (e.g., Florida Risk Protection Order.)
Florida Red Flag Law for Crime Prevention
It is important to recognize that Florida has, in effect, a Red Flag Law, which is a gun violence prevention law that permits a state court to order (Risk Prevention Order) the removal of firearms from a person who they believe may present a danger to others or themselves. Access to firearms can be restricted and ordered by present law.
POINT: Florida law already allows law enforcement members to petition the courts for a Risk Protection Order if they believe a person may present a danger to others or themselves.
The actual order must come from a judge within 72 hours of its application, and the person receives a hearing within 14 days. The judge determines whether to return the firearms at all, to return them in six months, in a year, etc. Judges may require someone to undergo mental health or substance abuse treatment before the Order is lifted. This will not change with the Permitless Carry law.
It is my understanding that if an individual is under the influence of a drug, is acting strange in public, and making people uncomfortable, a judge may have the individual evaluated and issue an order. Data shows the law has been very helpful, especially in preventing suicides. Treatment can be prescribed for those with mental health issues. Since its creation, Florida judges have acted more than 8,000 times to keep guns out of the hands of people authorities deemed a risk to themselves or others, according to data maintained by the Office of the State Courts Administrator. The Florida Risk Protection Orders allow law enforcement to focus on crime prevention instead of reacting to an active shooter when “it’s too late.”
A professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, Shannon Frattaroli, reviewed Risk Protection Order cases in six states, including Florida. Her research has found hundreds of examples of police using Red Flag Laws to remove weapons from people who have threatened mass violence. She said, “If even 1% of the Orders that are issued in response to a threat of mass violence makes a difference, that’s pretty powerful.”
U.S. Supreme Court Decision in June 2022
Recall that the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, struck down a New York law in June 2022 that required people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a permit/license to carry one in public. According to the ruling, which expanded gun rights nationwide, the New York law violated the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”
This 2023 Permitless Carry bill to strengthen the right to self-defense in Florida recognizes the right of any law-abiding adult who is at least 21 years old and legally eligible to obtain a carry permit, to carry a handgun without first having to obtain government permission and get a permit. There are some existing legal protections against criminals in almost all of the present Permitless Carry laws and states. The Florida constitutionally required three-day waiting period for buying and receiving the gun will remain in effect for people without a concealed weapons permit. Florida law already allows law enforcement members to petition the courts for a Risk Protection Order if they believe a person may present a danger to others or themselves. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that people do not need to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a permit/license.
So what is your decision about this bill, and do you support it; why or why not?
* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only, and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense, and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever.
© 2023 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col. Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.