TALLAHASSEE – Some top Florida Republican lawmakers have now said they would support constitutional carry legislation in the upcoming session.
The policy would allow all legal gun owners to carry firearms without a concealed weapons license.
The constitutional carry legislation was filed by the Legislature’s most outspoken conservative member, Rep. Anthony Sabatini.
“Our very liberal Republican Speaker Chris Sprowls has gotten tens of thousands of emails from gun groups,” said Sabatini.
The policy is split into two bills.
The first would allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a license.
“You don’t have to go ask the government for permission,” said Sabatini.
The second would allow for open carry.
“You shouldn’t have the duty to hide your firearm if you’ve done nothing wrong,” said Sabatini.
Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani argued constitutional carry would make Florida a more dangerous place to live because you’d no longer have to take safety courses to carry a firearm in public.
“That’s really scary,” said Eskamani.
Eskamani said she’s doubtful Sabatini’s bills will get a hearing, due to his strained relationship with the House speaker.
“Sabatini does not have a lot of leverage within the chamber,” said Eskamani.
But recently, top brass in the Senate indicated they would support constitutional carry legislation, including Senate Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield.
“I support constitutional carry. That is one of the things that we will probably be looking at this session because it is important,” said Mayfield in a legislative delegation meeting last week.
Florida GOP Chair and State Sen. Joe Gruters said he might support constitutional carry, but doesn’t want to see assault weapons openly carried on beaches.
“Because I think that would adversely impact Florida’s tourism economy,” said Gruters.
While there seems to be some support for constitutional carry legislation in the Senate, a bill hasn’t yet been filed in the chamber.
Republicans may be weary of pursing such a controversial policy in an election year.
Twenty one states currently have some form of a constitutional carry law on the books.