January 26, 2023
By Luis Valdes, Florida State Director, Gun Owners of America
The Governor reiterated on December 15, 2022 that he fully backs Constitutional Carry. For those who don’t know, December 15 was Bill of Rights day. On that day, celebrating our rights, the Governor was asked about Constitutional Carry. This was his response:
“Well, we’ve had a majority this whole time. I’ll let Paul answer that because I’m ready.” The Governor then looked over to incoming House Speaker Paul Renner, and asked, “Are you going to do it?” Paul Renner responded with a “yes.”
Let’s break down the Governor’s statement. He didn’t just say he supports Constitutional Carry, he politically called out the Republican-controlled legislature for its collective failure to pass it during prior sessions. The Governor said, “We’ve had a majority this whole time.” That is very important, because it is true. But it appears that the legislature is going to play the same old switcheroo game on gun owners once again. I have had multiple independent sources confirm the same thing. A number of Florida’s Republican lawmakers are against full Constitutional Carry from passing. They want to pass the bare minimum, and if that means simply lowering the costs of permits, they’ll gladly do that.
There once was a time when Florida was the forerunner of Second Amendment related issues. Being the first state to pass “shall issue” concealed carry permits, adopting a “stand your ground” law for self-defense, and even going so far as being one of the most recognized permits across the country. Well, Florida is no longer the top state on Second Amendment related issues. Florida instead now has the dubious honor of being one of the worst Republican led states in the nation when it comes to gun rights. Florida is tied with New York, California, and Illinois in outright banning people openly carrying firearms. Florida has no campus carry whatsoever for college-aged adults. Worse though, Florida was the leader in rushing to pass Red Flag gun confiscation orders to trample gun owners’ Second Amendment rights—not to mention their Fourth & Fifth Amendment rights—along with stripping anyone under the age of 21 from legally being able to purchase a firearm.
In addition to red flag laws and under 21-gun purchase bans, former Republican Governor Rick Scott also banned rapid-fire devices – President Donald Trump publicly praised Scott for signing all three of these anti-2nd Amendment bills into law. MAGA???
Our rights were violated and stonewalled under Florida’s prior Republican Governor and legislative leaders like Rick Scott, Chris Sprowls, Wilton Simpson, Bill Galvano, and Richard Corcoran. But it appeared that things might have changed with the election of Ron DeSantis as Governor. For the first time, we have a sitting Governor openly calling for the passage of Constitutional Carry and pledging to make it happen. Well, the Governor isn’t a dictator nor a king. He can’t simply by a snap of his fingers make things happen. He needs the legislature to do their part and present him a bill that he can sign into law.
But word in the halls of the Capitol in Tallahassee is that Republican lawmakers don’t want to advance Constitutional Carry to the Governor. They’d rather advance a watered-down bill that would keep the permit requirements in place. Why? Because a number of these so-called Republicans are anti-gun, or to more bluntly put it, they’re anti-civil rights. Very recently, Gun Owners of America worked hard with the chairman of a county level Republican Executive Committee in the panhandle of Florida to advance a Constitutional Carry resolution. The resolution passed with one vote. The Republican members of that REC who voted against it did so because they were against the idea of “criminals” carrying firearms. And by “criminals,” they meant people of color.
Yes, you read that right, there are Republicans who voted against advancing a resolution that supports Constitutional Carry because they don’t want people of color to be able to exercise their inalienable rights. They defended the Jim Crow era gun control and specifically brought up the killing of an ex-confederate town marshal as a reason why gun control needs to be kept in place. Yes, they used the example of a former confederate being killed over a century ago as a reason why we need to have restrictions on the carrying of arms.
They didn't want Constitutional Carry nor Open Carry to pass because the idea of their minority neighbors being armed scared them. They claimed that the laws on the books, the very laws that bar people from carrying without a permit, keeps criminals from being criminals. Yet one of those who voted against it is a retired judge who proudly stated to the room that he currently carries without a permit and openly violates state law. But, he is against Constitutional Carry. This is the fight that Gun Owners of America and Florida’s gun owners are facing across Florida. Republicans who campaign on being pro-gun, are anti-gun; and they’re anti-gun because they’re anti-liberty. This was the fight that Gun Owners of America and Florida’s gun owners faced back in June 2022 to get the Republican Party of Florida to pass the following resolution to support Constitutional Carry.
It was a hard fight to get that resolution passed. But pass it did. And now, you have Republican lawmakers wanting to make the Governor look bad by scuttling the passage of true Constitutional Carry. Gov. DeSantis pledged that he would enact Constitutional Carry in Florida before he leaves office—whether that means 2024 or 2026. The Governor pledged to Floridians that he would make sure our rights would be properly restored and that the stain of Jim Crow bigotry would be removed from the fabric that is our state.
Enough is enough, Florida’s gun owners need to tell these Republicans lawmakers where they stand on this issue. They need to tell their lawmakers that they want full Constitutional Carry, nothing more and nothing less! For those outside of Florida, call Governor Ron DeSantis’ office at (850) 717-9337 and tell his staff that you fully support full Constitutional Carry with open carry and will visit Florida more often. And more importantly, you’re tracking how he handles this situation, because it will translate how he will handle Congress and our Second Amendment rights if he wins the White House in 2024.
Click here to tell Florida’s Republican lawmakers that full Constitutional Carry must be passed!
About the Author
Luis Valdes is the Florida State Director and the Director of Outreach for Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands for Gun Owners of America. You can read his full bio here.
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