TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2023) – Yesterday, a Florida House committee passed a bill that would allow adults over 21 to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. The enactment of this so-called “constitutional carry” bill would also foster an environment more hostile to federal gun control.
Rep. Chuck Brannan (R) and Rep. Bobby Payne (R), along with a large coalition of Republican cosponsors, introduced House Bill 543 (HB543) on Jan. 30. Under the proposed law, persons over 21 would be able to carry a firearm without a permit in Florida. The state would maintain its concealed carry licensing process for those who wish to get a permit in order to carry in other states that maintain CCDW reciprocity with Florida.
On Feb. 7, the House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law and Government Operations Subcommittee passed HB543 by a 10-5 vote.
The bill ran up against opposition from some gun rights advocates who say HB543 isn’t truly a “constitutional carry” bill because it wouldn’t allow the open carrying of firearms, excludes persons younger than 21 from the option of concealed carry, and bans concealed carry from college campuses and some other public places.
“To call this bill constitutional carry is an insult to our intelligence,” Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida chairman Bob White said.
Florida director of Gun Owners of America Luis Valdes said the bill is a step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough.
“The governor has pledged he wants constitutional carry. He didn’t pledge that he wants permitless concealed only,” he said.
EFFECT ON FEDERAL GUN CONTROL
While permitless carry bills do not directly affect federal gun control, the widespread passage of permitless concealed carry laws in states subtly undermines federal efforts to regulate guns. As we’ve seen with marijuana and industrial hemp, a federal regulation becomes ineffective when states ignore it and pass laws encouraging the prohibited activity anyway.
The federal government lacks the enforcement power necessary to maintain its ban, and people will willingly take on the small risk of federal sanctions if they know the state will not interfere. This increases when the state actively encourages “the market.”
Less restrictive state gun laws will likely have a similar impact on federal gun laws. It will make it that much more difficult for the feds to enforce any future federal gun control, and increase the likelihood that states with few limits will simply refuse to cooperate with federal enforcement efforts.
The passage of HB543 would lower barriers for those wanting the option of defending themselves with firearms and encourages a “gun-friendly” environment that would make federal efforts to limit firearms that much more difficult.
HB543 will move to the House Judiciary Committee where it must get a hearing and pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
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