The Florida legislative session officially starts on Tuesday, and one proposed bill would allow people to carry concealed weapons without obtaining a state license.
This comes days after Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would support an open-carry gun law in Florida.
The proposal on the table only allows lawful gun owners to carry a concealed firearm without having to get a government-issued permit, but that could change.
It is now in question whether Florida could become a permitless open carry state. A law like this would allow gun owners to carry a firearm in plain sight without requiring a state permit.
Supporters say this would help people defend themselves, while critics call it dangerous.
“We think this a really dangerous idea,” Andy Pelosi, a board member of Prevent Gun Violence in Florida, said. “There is no reason for people to be able to carry, in our mind, a weapon openly in public.”
According to House Bill 543, Floridians would no longer need to apply for a license for concealed carry.
Non-Florida residents could carry concealed firearms if they are 21 or older under this proposal.
Under current law, people who want to carry concealed weapons need to apply to the state for a license and go through a process that includes passing criminal background checks. More than 2.62 million people had concealed weapons licenses as of Dec. 31, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers the program.
According to the proposal, carrying guns at places such as schools and athletic events will still be prohibited and a person would need to “carry valid identification at all times when he or she is in actual possession of a concealed weapon or concealed firearm and must display such identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer.”
Luis Valdes is the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, a nonprofit in support of firearms. He is in favor of banning permit requirements.
“A permitting system is in every way an insult to the ideas of liberty that our country was founded on,” Valdes said.
Pelosi believes getting rid of gun permits will make it difficult to track gun violence.
“If you don’t get a permit to carry you could commit a crime at any convenient time since you’ve purchased the gun and you’re not going to be caught,” Pelosi said. “If you take that permitting process away there’s the potential.”
If it becomes law, it would make the U.S. a constitutional carry-majority nation since there are currently 25 states with similar concealed carry laws.