A measure that curbs the permit requirements needed to carry a concealed handgun in the Sunshine State is halfway to the governor's desk. 

Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Florida House last Friday gave an easy 76-32 approval to HB 543. The proposal, described by some as "constitutional carry," recognizes the right of any person at least 21 years old that is legally eligible to obtain a Florida carry permit, to carry a handgun without first having to obtain such a permit. 

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Chuck Brannan, a former Deputy U.S. Marshal and retired Baker County Sheriff's Office investigator, who sees it as a logical next step for the state that largely pioneered modern concealed carry permitting. Of note, Florida has over 2.7 million active Concealed Weapon Licenses in circulation.

"Florida continues to lead the way in the modern carry movement by allowing all law-abiding Floridians to carry concealed without government interference or local preemption," said Brannan. "Each and every law-abiding adult in this country is constitutionally guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms."

The bill retains the current licensing process for those who choose to obtain a CWL for reciprocity reasons. The seven-year permits cost about $120 for first-time applicants when all of the fees are included, while renewals are about half that amount. Florida has reciprocity agreements with 36 states. 

In addition to repealing the requirement that those carrying a concealed handgun first obtain a CWL, the bill includes school safety provisions and creates the Florida Safe Schools Canine Program, which aims to purchase, train, and care for firearm detection dogs. 

Some pro-gun groups are backing the effort, with the NRA's ILA saying, "This ensures that citizens have their right to self-defense without red tape, delays, or fees. It does not change who is eligible to obtain a carry permit." 

Meanwhile, national anti-gun groups such as Giffords are pouring money into advertisements in the state, running hyperbolic bilingual spots across TV, radio, and print media slamming the effort. 

The legislation will now go to the Florida Senate, where Republicans hold a 28-12 majority, for further consideration. Gov. Ron DeSantis has promised to sign a permitless carry bill. 

Should the measure make it into law, Florida will be at least the 26th state to codify permitless carry practices. Both of the state's neighbors to the north, Alabama and Georgia, have similar laws already, as does nearby Mississippi. 

Banner image: Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro in FDE, an ideal optics-ready concealed carry micro 9mm pistol, on a GDC Island shirt.

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