‘Reckless’: Florida GOP Leaders Want to Get Rid of Gun Permits

Image via Shutterstock/Heidi Besen

By Giselle Balido

January 31, 2023

Democrats strongly object to “dangerous, despicable” legislation that would allow people to buy guns with no training or background checks.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Saying gun owners don’t need a government permission slip to protect their God-given rights, Florida’s House speaker proposed legislation Monday (House Bill 543) to eliminate concealed weapons permits, a move Democrats argue would make a state with a history of horrific mass shootings less safe.

Republican leaders, including Gov. Ron DeSantis, have expressed support for the idea, so the bill should not have a problem passing in a legislature with a GOP supermajority.

“What we’re about here today is a universal right that applies to each and every man or woman regardless of race, gender, creed or background,” Speaker Paul Renner said at a news conference.

‘It’s Despicable’

Democrats immediately responded that the proposal could lead to more gun violence and accidents. They said that the bill supporters call constitutional carry will allow people to buy guns with no training or background checks.

“Untrained carry is what it is,” said Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, who was mayor of Parkland when a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student fatally shot 17 students and faculty. “You are not making our communities, our schools or any places safer with this.”

“When your state is home to tragedies like the Parkland and Pulse shootings, you would think our leaders would join their communities in rallying behind common-sense gun reform that takes guns off our streets, not puts more on them,” US Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10) agreed in a statement. “But instead, Florida Republican leaders have decided the NRA is more important than Floridians. This is a reckless, dangerous piece of legislation […] It’s despicable.”

RELATED: Una Dura Realidad: Gun Violence Disproportionally Affects Black and Latino Communities. Here’s What Needs to Be Done.

Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congress member Gabrielle Giffords, also strongly condemned the introduction of the legislation in Florida.

“On the heels of a devastating week of gun violence, our elected leaders should be taking steps to make us safer—not putting communities in greater danger. The data is clear that permitless carry leads to more violence, not less,” Giffords said in a statement, which went on to point out the dangers of this type of legislation:

  • Studies show that weakening public carry laws is associated with a 13–15% increase in violent crime rates, as well as an 11% increase in rates of homicides committed with handguns.
  • One recent study found that when states weakened their concealed carry laws and removed provisions like live fire training and violent misdemeanor prohibitions—both of which Florida currently has—they experienced a 22% increase in gun assaults and a 35% increase in gun homicides.
  • The current law ensures that people with a history of violent or risky behavior cannot carry firearms in public places. Between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, 7,605 Florida residents with a disqualifying history were denied concealed carry permits. Permitless carry would strip these important provisions.
  • The state of Florida requires 1,200 hours of training to obtain a license to cut hair, 500 hours of training to obtain a massage therapist license, and 240 hours of training to become a licensed manicurist. If Florida passes permitless carry, the state will require zero hours of training for people to carry a loaded firearm in public.

‘A More Dangerous State’

Speaker Renner, however, said law-abiding gun owners will take safety seriously.

“Anybody that is a gun owner and uses guns knows that safety comes first,” Renner said. “That’s important, but it’s not required. So, the permit and all aspects of that permit will go away.”

RELATED: Florida Moves to Ban Credit Card Companies From Tracking Gun Sales

Others disagree. Manuel and Patricia Oliver became advocates for tighter gun regulations after losing their 17-year-old son Joaquin in the 2018 massacre at the Parkland high school. They said with more people carrying guns without restrictions, Florida will become a more dangerous state.

“How about a little paperwork, some norms, before we take that step. It’s not right and it’s not protecting (the carrier) from anything. It is actually putting in danger a lot of people,” Manuel Oliver said.

Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said people who want to do harm to others won’t be stopped by the permit requirement.

“Criminals don’t get a permit. Not one of them. They don’t care about obeying the law. Our law-abiding citizens have that immediate right, guarantee and freedom to protect themselves,” Ivey said.

A Worrisome Trend

About half the states allow people to carry a gun without a permit, a movement that has been growing particularly among conservative states.

Florida handgun owners would still have to conceal their weapons in public, though there has been discussion to allow gun owners to openly carry weapons.

However, recent polling by Giffords and Global Strategy Group shows that Floridians, especially Hispanic voters, oppose permitless carry: 61% of Floridians and 71% of Hispanic voters oppose permitless carry, which DeSantis has promised to pass.

“It’s clear that Governor DeSantis is protecting the profits of the gun industry while putting our children and our communities in danger of more violence,” said Giffords Florida Senior Advisor and former Congressmember Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.


By Brendan Farrington, Associated Press. Associated Press writer Terry Spencer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report. Additional reporting by Giselle Balido



  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.



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