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Permitless Carry Bill Introduced In Florida

A Heckler & Koch VP9 with a Streamlight TLR-1 HL Light attached.

On the morning of Monday, January 30th, 2023, Speaker of the Florida House Paul Renner (R-Palm Court) introduced the latest attempt at Constitutional Carry (aka Permitless Carry) in the State of Florida. Known as HB 543 in legislative circles, the bill will remove the need for Floridians to obtain a Concealed Weapon Or Firearm License before carrying a concealed handgun in public. In his opening remarks, Renner stated that the bill gets “rid of the need for a government permission slip” to carry a concealed handgun in the State of Florida.

At first glance, this does seem to be what Floridians have been waiting for with baited breath for decades. With one of the only “red waves” being in the Sunshine State, Florida is primed for a Constitutional Carry bill to pass. Governor DeSantis has promised to sign if one reaches his desk, even. But, the devil is in the details…

However, before we see where we are, and where we as Second Amendment Radicals in Florida need to go, we should take a moment to see where we have been…

A Short History Of Carrying A Gun In Florida

Florida. The Gunshine State. Where Woke Goes To Die. The popular ethos has us as a deep red, staunchly Republican, gun-totin’ paradise. Our state flower is a bouquet of 9mm hollow points, supposedly. The “normies” think all 21 million of us have a GLOCK 47 on our hip. It’s not really like that, unfortunately.

For most of Florida’s history, gun control was a reflection of the “old ways” of Jim Crow-era South. As one Florida judge explained way back when, permit laws were “passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers…” and weren’t intended to be enforced on white folk.

After the Civil War, that was indeed the status quo. To put it bluntly, in terms of gun laws, Florida was a mess. Counties and municipalities were free to enact their own gun control laws in excess of Federal and any state standards, and they often did. While type-specific bans were rare, the biggest “control” was on the carry of firearms outside of the home. Typically each county set it’s own policies, ranging from what we would recognize as “shall-issue” in the more rural parts of the state, to almost “no-issue” in places like Dade and Broward County (Miami and Fort Lauderdale respectively) where permits were costly, often hundreds of dollars or more, and licensing authorities denied permits except for the famous and well-connected. Yes, just like New York City was until the Bruen decision.

Furthermore, intra-state reciprocity was spotty at best. Someone with a permit to carry in say, Duval County, may very well run into legal issues if they attempted to carry a gun in Broward County.

It was a mess, despite the fact in 1977, the Florida Supreme Court made it clear a shall-issue system was to be the law of the land in Florida. However, counties still refused to play fair, finally forcing the State to take control of firearms carry permits in 1987, with the enactment of 790.06, the law outlining the issuance of Concealed Weapons Or Firearm Licenses in Florida. Shall-issue became a State project, with the Florida Department of State handling it at first, and then the Department of Agriculture And Consumer Services taking over the program after.

Critics predicted the “Wild West” and Floridians wading hip-deep in blood. Despite the fact that those bent on offensive violence weren’t the sort to stand in line and fill out the paperwork for the permit.

Thus, the Gunshine State was born. Prior, very few states were shall-issue, and even may-issue was sketchy at best. Florida kicked down the door for the modern era of gun culture here in the US, where the pendulum was already shifting from “sporting use” to defense of self and property in terms of firearms purchases.

Florida set the standard, and many states followed. In the early 21st Century, the Gunshine State was surpassed in terms of recognition of the Second Amendment, with many states moving to full Constitutional Carry (both open and concealed) models. As of this writing, fully half the states in our nation no longer require a permit for it’s residents to carry a firearm.

While still compliant with the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision of 2022, Florida is ironically dead last in terms of gun rights recognition as far as “red states” go.

Florida’s Gun Control At A Glance

The media has it that Florida is a deep red Republican stronghold. While on paper this is true, as most of the state, even typically-blue Miami, voted for DeSantis during the last electoral cycle. The reality is that several powerful groups, including the tourism industry, certain city and county chief law enforcement officers, and Republicans-In-Name-Only such as Wilton Simpson have proved to be blockades to significant progresss with regards to Second Amendment rights in Florida.

Grant it, here in Florida, the firearms scene is grand as compared to say, California, but it lacks in some key aspects:

  • 21+ to purchase any firearm. While handguns are federally-regulated at 21+, long gun age restrictions are typically left to the states. In the wake of “do something” mania after the Parkland incident in 2018, Rick Scott, more concerned about his Senate run than the governorship of Florida, signed an age restriction into law, where anyone looking to acquire a weapon at retail in Florida has to be 21 or older.

  • “Accelerated Shooting” ban. As part of the same package above, Scott signed into law a ban which restricted the sale of bump stocks (prior to Trump’s illegal federal ban), and other devices which could be construed as to help accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon. The law is vague enough that most retailers will not ship binary triggers to Florida. Ironically the currently-contested Rare Breed fast-reset trigger is made right here in Florida.

  • Red Flag law. Again, because of the hysterical response and coverup of government incompetence after Parkland, a red flag law was enacted in the Gunshine State. Now, compared to the norm of red flag laws, where it seems a gun owner’s dog can report him to the police, the Florida law is very circumscribed and thankfully difficult for a petitioner to get. But it’s still there and short-circuits due process. Besides, if someone is truly dangerous, taking his or her guns away won’t do anything but enrage them further.

  • Open Carry but only when participating in, going to, or coming from a hunting or fishing activity. Otherwise, open carry is a no-go.

As one can see, most of Florida’s restrictions on firearms were signed into law by a Republican governor with the backing of a slightly (at the time) Republican legislature. Constitutional Carry was routinely shot down or stalled in committee.

In 2022 and 2023, it seems the same legislature, now quite a bit redder, found some chutzpah and got a Permitless Carry bill out the door and on the way to a vote in the form of HB 543.

The Nuance Of HB 543, Florida’s Permitless Carry Bill

Prior to the January 30th announcement, rumors abounded of Florida’s latest attempt to get a Constitutional Carry law enacted. Ranging from the true standard of “no permit needed to open or conceal carry a handgun”, to what amounted merely to a free permit scheme, it finally seemed the legislature was actually going to get something to Governor DeSantis’ desk.

And with HB543, it appears they may. But sadly, it seems there’s been some “compromises”.

By the standard, HB 543 is not a Constitutional Carry bill. Open carry is still prohibited except for the narrow exemption for hunting and fishing. Only the concealed carry of a firearm falls under the proposed law.

Also, unlike the histrionics of cretins like David Hogg, and faux-Latinos like Carlos Guillermo Smith, the bill does not change the standards of eligibility of who can and cannot possess a firearm. That’s generally a federal matter, but mere facts aren’t getting in the way of a good bitch session in this case.

If ratified, HB 543 will restore the right, partially, for Floridians to keep and bear arms outside the home without government interference, but woe be unto anyone whose shirt moves an inch in the wrong direction.

Why the exemptions? Simply put, Florida isn’t as red as it seems. With a relatively booming economy as a result of minimal COVID lockdowns, the GOP swept Florida, but within those ranks exists a fair amount of RINOs, willing to conspire with the few remaining state-level Democrats in office. In addition, the Florida Sheriff’s Association and Disney have historically been against open carry, especially Constitutional. The FSA makes up excuses about “officer safety” and the House Of Mouse claims the tourists will be scared. Protip - officer safety is the responsibility of the officer. Protip 2 - Tourists are too busy staring at their phones, and won’t notice Floridians openly carrying.

HB 543 doesn’t actually get rid of the Concealed Weapon Or Firearms License though. CWFLs will still be available for reciprocity with states that require a carry permit, or at least require a permit for non-residents to carry.

But anyways…

HB 543 May Actually Pass And Be Signed By DeSantis

The GOP in Florida has tried to get Constitutional Carry bills to the desk of the Governor before. Most of the time, the bill has been a “true” Constitutional Carry one, with both open and concealed carry being recognized without a state permit. However, those bills have historically been shot down in committees where Democrats and RINOs have held sway.

HB 543 is the first permitless carry bill to actually get this amount of fanfare, along high levels of histrionics from the gun control schemers. Prior attempts were criticized, but not to the degree seen on January 30th.

And the Florida Sheriff’s Association has signed off on the bill. A compromise has been struck, which (hopefully temporarily) limits our rights. Again, the FSA has usually been against the idea, but today they are for it. By and large, chief law enforcement officers are elected in Florida, and this may be their “gimme” to shore up their next electoral campaigns.

The opposition may know something we don’t at this time, that HB 543 will pass, especially with the tacit backing of the FSA. Disney upset the Governor, so they aren’t as big of a factor, but the FSA represented the “appeal to authority” the progressives so love.

With the support the FSA, and even a RINO/real GOP aka “MAGA” dominated Legislature, HB 543 looks like it’ll go the distance. An “Only In Florida” Permitless Carry law may hit the books in 2023.

Also, it’s been a very long time since the 2A community had a win in Florida, and the GOP needs the 2A community to continue to dominate Florida politics. HB 543 is an incremental bill designed to temporarily placate firearms owners, and not startle the normies.

And we as Second Amendment Radicals should support it, even if it’s not quite what we want.

HB 543 Gets Ratified, Then What?

Through inattention, our right to keep and bear arms was curtailed over the decades. But bit by bit the right is being restored nationwide. With Bruen in the back pockets of Second Amendment Radicals everywhere, the right is being restored. Certainly looming conflicts like the pistol brace ban, which is illegal and immoral, will need to be fought, but overall, the Second Amendment Radicals have the momentum.

Unfortunately, it won’t be a machine-guns-in-vending-machines paradise just yet. Tactically, the right needs to be restored in pieces, as to not upset the average Joes, the people in Peoria. Not explicitly tuned into 2A, things like Constitutional Carry spook them a little.

HB 543 is step 1 in Florida. The next step is to pressure the Legislature to amend HB 543 to include open carry after it’s enactment. That push should come in 2024 or 2025, after a few years of trouble-free (concealed!) permitless carry. It’s slow and frustrating, but it’s the best course to getting the right to keep and bear arms restored in Florida, and nationwide.

Please Train And Learn About Firearms Safety

Certainly, HB 543 does away with the permit scheme and fees to legally carry a gun in the State of Florida. No longer will training be a mandate. However, one should train, especially when taking on the reponsibility for defending one’s own life with potentially deadly force. Bring that 9mm pistol to the range as often as possible. Dry fire, take classes. Learn. It’s actually a lot of fun.

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