Three states are currently making significant progress toward joining 25 others in the constitutional carry club. A permitless carry bill has already passed the House in South Carolina and is working its way through the Senate. Nebraska took a big step forward when two Democrats — the only black members of the Senate — came out in favor of permitless carry this week.
And then there’s Florida. There’s been solid momentum behind the permitless concealed carry bills that are moving through the House and Senate. Everyone expects them to pass. But some gun rights orgs have objected to the fact that open carry wasn’t part of the legislation.
Open carry supporters have been told by Republican leaders in the Legislature that the only way open carry could be added to the pending bills is if the governor came out in favor of it. Well . . .
Gun Owners of America’s Florida director (and TTAG contributor) Luis Valdes figured the best way to find out what DeSantis thinks about open carry is to ask him directly. So Valdes bought a copy of the Governor’s new book and stood in line for two hours at a book-signing event in Jacksonville. As DeSantis was signing the book for Valdes, he asked him about open carry.
You can hear the exchange here.
When asked if he he supports open carry and would like to see it added to the permitless carry bills, DeSantis said . . .
Yeah, absolutely. I don’t think [the Legislature] are gonna do it, but I would absolutely.
As a Tampa Bay Times article about the Governor’s support for open carry makes clear, that puts the Legislature in the hot seat. The legislature reconvenes on March 7.
Before Florida’s legislative session even officially begins, the bill is ready to go to the House floor for a vote, and has only one other committee stop in the Senate. It has been voted for on strict party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats against.
Though Florida’s legislative leaders and the bill sponsors have praised the legislation as being an expansion of Second Amendment constitutional rights, members of pro-gun groups have criticized the Republican-dominated Legislature for failing to match other states when it comes to open carry.
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo did not respond to emails Friday asking for comment on the recording of the governor. A spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Renner said Renner has consistently stated his support for expanding constitutional rights, and that the permitless carry bill is a “significant win.”
Florida is one of the few states to prohibit open carry of weapons in nearly all circumstances. New York and Illinois also prohibit open carry. It is largely prohibited in California as well, though a small carve-out exists for counties with fewer than 200,000 people, according to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association.
Valdes, the Gun Owners of America director, has been outspoken that the permitless carry bill does not go far enough and has worked to get lawmakers to adopt open carry legislation. He has previously said that if the governor was a strong supporter of open carry, he could get the Legislature to act.
On Friday, Valdes said he hopes the governor’s recorded statement will do just that.
Neither House or Senate leaders are fans of open carry in the Republican supermajority-controlled Legislature. They firgured they could pass permitless carry and mollify Florida’s very vocal pro-gun community without adding open carry onto the bills. They’d just blame it on a perceived lack of support by the Governor.
Now they can’t do that any more. Gun rights supporters were told that if DeSantis came out in support of open carry, they’d look at adding it to the permitless carry bills moving through the legislature. Valdes 10-second recording has boxed them in. They can no longer use a perceived lack of support from DeSantis as an excuse.
The question now is, with their excuse gone, whether they’ll make good and add open carry to the bills. Watch this space.
Read the full article here