**April 3, 2023 Update: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Signed HB 543. The bill becomes a law on July 1st and makes Florida the 26th state in the country that has a permitless carry law on the books.**
From a legislative standpoint, Florida isn’t as bad as New York or California. However, it isn’t the super, pro-gun state that many believe it is. Until now, Florida could not get a permitless carry law across the finish line. But it seems like they finally did with House Bill 543.
Florida Senate Bill 543—
Earlier this month, the Florida House voted on HB 543 which would allow any law-abiding adult who is at least 21-years-old and legally eligible to get a carry permit, to carry a handgun without first having to obtain government permission. This is Florida’s version of similar laws passed by other states, commonly referred to as constitutional or permitless carry. In fact, if this bill becomes law—and it should—Florida would be the 26th state in the country that explicitly allows citizens to carry a firearm without asking for permission.
Before heading to the Florida Senate, HB 543 passed in the House with a 76-32 vote. Moving quickly, the Florida Senate voted yesterday in favor of HB 543, 27-13. The next step would be a signature from Governor Ron DeSantis.
It’s tough to think of a scenario where DeSantis wouldn’t sign HB 543. He is running for president and a veto would create an impossible path to victory as a Republican presidential candidate. DeSantis has also said repeatedly that he would sign constitutional carry legislation if it made it to his desk. So absent something unexpected, Florida will be the state that tips the scales, making constitutional carry legal in the majority of states.
I mentioned Florida isn’t the pro-gun state that many believe it is. I say this partially because back in 2018, the State’s Legislature passed a law that barred those under 21 from purchasing a firearm. At the time, DeSantis opposed the law, but it had bi-partisan support and got passed in the shadow of the Parkland mass killing. Republican Rick Scott was Florida’s governor at the time. Before leaving the Governor’s office and becoming a FL Senator, he officially signed the bill.
The law was a reaction to a horrific killing. Even if the law had been in place before the Parkland killings, it would not have kept the psychopath from carrying out his evil plan.
HB 543 didn’t change this age requirement for Floridians, and restrains adults aged 18 and 19 from their right to self defense. This is the major problem I have with the law. I realize including a change to the age restrictions on this bill may have jeopardized its passing. I say this because proposed legislation removing the age requirement has failed to make it to a full vote.
This is a good bill, and a good thing for Floridians, but is in truth a compromise.
An Important Constitutional Carry Resource—
As more states adopt constitutional or permitless carry laws, more people have the ability to carry a gun without attending a course on safety, or their state laws related to carrying a gun. We are 100% in favor of people’s right to carry a firearm without needing to ask the government for permission. We don’t think the government should mandate training as a requirement for the person to carry a gun.
That said, we also believe that responsible gun owners seek training so they can be safe and use the gun effectively. We also think it’s incredibly important that anyone carrying a gun knows the laws of their state, and if they travel to other states with the gun they understand the laws of that state as well.
So we put together this guide for those of you in states who aren’t required by law to attend training, but want to stay out of legal trouble, and carry with confidence. The Ultimate Guide to Responsible Constitutional Carry, is a great starting point and provides many resources to go deeper on every topic related to carrying a gun. Please consider checking it out and sharing it with your family and friends. Even those who attended a state mandated training course can benefit from the information and resources included in the guide.