On Monday morning, Florida lawmakers gathered at a press briefing to announce House Bill 543, which would allow the permitless concealed carry of firearms, a policy called "Constitutional Carry" by proponents.
The concept of the policy has been supported by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) and other legislators described the proposed bill, written by Rep. Chuck Brannan (R-Lake City) with state Sen. Jay Collins (R-Tampa) writing the companion legislation for the Florida Senate, as a necessary step in an age of political division.
“What we’re about here today, is a universal right that applies to each and every man, woman, regardless of race, gender, creator, or background,” Renner said. “Florida led the nation in allowing for concealed carry, and that extends today as we remove the government permission slip to require a permit to exercise a constitutional right.”
The bill, should it pass, would eliminate the regulation of concealed carry permits, previously handled by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
It would allow the concealed carry of weapons and firearms without a license for concealment, with the text of the bill defining a concealed weapon as "any dirk, metallic knuckles, billie, tear gas gun, chemical weapon or device, or other deadly weapon carried on or about a person in such a manner as to conceal the weapon from the ordinary sight of another person."
In December, Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed his commitment to the legislation and urged lawmakers to propose it. The National Rifle Association has since praised the bill, asserting that it would add Florida to the more than half of the U.S. that allows for the right to carry concealed firearms without permits, calling it a "fundamental right." Should it pass, Florida would become the 26th state to remove concealed carry permitting restrictions.
As written, HB 543 does not allow felons or other Floridians who are blocked from possessing a firearm to carry one, or own one. It also allows nonresidents to have concealed weapons in the state if they meet the same requirements as Florida residents. Concealed weapons are still limited in certain locations.
The bill summary says that “provides a person authorized to carry concealed weapon or concealed firearm without license is subject to specified penalties for possessing such weapon or firearm at school-sponsored event or on school property.”
Provisions of the proposed legislation also would remove the need for citizens to have concealed carry permits, allowing them to have the firearm without having to pay a fee or get a certificate for carrying a firearm.