The Phoenix Flyer

‘Open carry’ is now on the table as permitless carry bill goes to the House floor

By: - March 21, 2023 4:56 pm
gun training class

A training class on carrying concealed weapons. The FL Legislature has approved a bill that would not require training. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

The permitless/constitutional carry bill that has been moving its way through the Florida Legislature over the past month has been dominated by gun rights supporters pushing Republican legislators to add an “open carry” provision to the proposal – which is the visible carrying of a firearm.

Those Second Amendment supporters have been stymied however, by Republican leadership – who has made it known that it wasn’t likely to be added to the permitless carry bill – this year.

But Tuesday, Hillsborough County Republican Mike Beltran filed an amendment to the proposal in the House (HB 543) that calls for allowing open carry in Florida.

A permitless carry bill would repeal the current state law that requires an individual who carries a concealed firearm to get a permit, which entails completing a firearms safety and training course, pay a licensing fee and provide a full set of fingerprints to the state. That’s the law in 25 other states around the country.

But Second Amendment supporters say that it’s not a “true constitutional carry bill” because it does not allow for openly carrying visible firearms in public. Some of those advocates have told GOP lawmakers in committee meetings that they oppose the bill without the open carry provision. Florida is one of only three states in the nation that doesn’t allow for any open carrying of firearms.

Governor Ron DeSantis has said that he would sign an open carry bill if the Legislature passed such a measure, something noted by Florida Democrats in their response to the amendment being filed.

“Ron DeSantis is encouraging lawmakers to introduce more and more extreme legislation as he works to boost his nation profile and win over the MAGA base,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Devon Cruz. “The open carry amendment introduced today could make it easier for criminals to openly carry guns in Florida. Law enforcement and citizens alike oppose this bill, which would make our state more dangerous. This extreme amendment is just another example of DeSantis putting his own political ambitions ahead of Floridians.”

The measure has cleared all of its committees in both the House and Senate – and will go before the full House later this week – with the open carry amendment attached to it.

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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.