The Sunshine State is a signature away from becoming the 26th state in the country to affirm that the Second Amendment is the only permit needed to carry a concealed handgun

Less than a week after lawmakers in the Florida state House approved HB 543 76-32, the state Senate followed up on Thursday by a 27-13 vote, sending it to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk. 

“Here in Florida under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the government will not get in the way of law-abiding Americans who want to defend themselves and their families," said bill sponsor, state Sen. Jay Collins (R-Tampa). "As a retired U.S. Army Green Beret, I’ve been blessed to serve shoulder to shoulder with brave men and women willing to put their lives on the line in defense of our constitutional freedoms. I’ve also been deployed to countries where oppressed people have lived their entire lives under tyrannical regimes with no ability to safeguard their loved ones. I believe we have an obligation to respect their sacrifice by protecting our God-given and Constitutional rights here at home." 

The measure simply eliminates the need for a concealed weapons license in the state of Florida. It would not cancel the more than 2.6 million CWLs already in circulation or disband the program that issues them. It also does not affect laws relating to the purchase of a firearm, authorize those prohibited from legally possessing a firearm to carry one concealed, or change the current state-authorized "gun-free zones." 

It also would not recognize open carry, a failure that some feel is a misfire when it comes to gun rights and doesn't meet the guidelines for true constitutional carry. 

"Governor Ron DeSantis can’t expect to be praised as a ‘conservative hero’ if he’s going to retreat back to the establishment line every time a major vote has to be made,” Young Americans for Liberty Vice President of Policy Ted Patterson told in an email. "Floridians deserve the full Constitutional Carry that DeSantis promised last year, especially if he wants their support in the 2024 election. Republicans need a stronger leader than someone who will accept a bill that is only half-way acceptable."

School Safety

In addition to its permitless carry tenets, the proposal expands tools available to law enforcement and educators working to keep communities and schools safe. This includes a requirement that the state Office of Safe Schools "create a Florida-specific behavioral threat instrument which will help evaluate the behavior of students who may pose a very serious threat to the school, school staff or students and coordinate intervention and services for the students and parents." 

Another facet is the establishment of the Florida Safe Schools Canine Program to field firearm detection dogs. Finally, it expands current school guardian programs to private schools and mandates that all law enforcement agencies in Florida must have an "active assailant response policy" by October, coupled with required annual training to keep current. 

Should DeSantis sign the bill, it would go into effect on July 1.

Banner image: S&W Model 642 Airweight J-frame snub-nosed .38 Special with Federal Micro HST personal defense rounds. (Photo: Chris Eger/

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