July 1st marked a significant day for the state of Florida
The long-debated House Bill 543 officially went into effect, ushering in a new era of gun legislation. Permitless carry, also known as constitutional carry, became legal in the Sunshine State, allowing individuals to carry concealed weapons without the need for a permit. Although it may feel like this change occurred just two weeks ago, the impact of this law is already making waves across the state.
While proponents of permitless carry argue that it empowers individuals to protect themselves in dangerous situations, critics, such as Moms Demand Action, express deep concern about the potential dangers it poses. Helen Kirklin, a volunteer with Alachua County Moms Demand Action, points out that similar laws in other states have led to an increase in the presence of firearms in public spaces, including parks, grocery stores, malls, and neighborhoods. This, they argue, puts innocent lives at risk.
Requirement to obtain a concealed carry permit by state/territory (2023)
On the other side of the debate, supporters of the law believe that permitless carry will offer greater protection to those who find themselves in harm’s way. Nicholas Lahera, the public relations coordinator at Big Daddy Unlimited, a gun retailer in Gainesville, argues that women and other vulnerable individuals who may be at risk of domestic violence can now more quickly and efficiently defend themselves.
Previously, obtaining a concealed carry permit in Florida involved completing a class, undergoing fingerprinting, and enduring a wait period of nearly three months. With permitless carry, individuals can bypass these requirements and simply go through a three-day waiting period when purchasing a firearm. This change, along with other sweeping legislative moves by Governor Ron DeSantis and state Republicans, reflects a shift in responsibility for gun training from a legal obligation to a personal one.
While critics worry about the potential consequences of permitless carry, it’s important to note that state and federal regulations regarding who can purchase a gun, including age restrictions and background checks, still apply. Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that the new law does not permit open carry.
The impact of permitless carry is already evident, with gun retailers witnessing an increase in handgun sales. Kevin West, the owner of West Armory in Dade City, stresses the importance of firearm training and safety. He likens owning a gun to driving a car, emphasizing the need for knowledge and responsible handling. Even though training is no longer required by law, West encourages new gun owners to pursue concealed carry training to navigate potential scenarios and understand the laws associated with firearm usage.
Similarly, the general manager of Florida Gun Shows highlights the continued importance of training and education. Although concealed weapon training will no longer be required by law at their shows, they still offer it to ensure responsible gun ownership and inform attendees about safety protocols and restricted carry areas.
Notwithstanding the opinions surrounding permitless carry, it is undeniable that this new law marks a significant change in Florida’s gun legislation. As the 26th state to pass such legislation, Florida joins a growing number of states that allow individuals to carry concealed weapons without a permit. The impact of this shift will undoubtedly continue to be a topic of debate and discussion among Floridians as they navigate the changing landscape of gun regulations.
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