The free state of Florida took another step toward fully embracing that moniker Monday as Republican House Speaker Paul Renner introduced legislation to become the latest state to firmly recognize the Second Amendment of the Constitution.
“Floridians shouldn’t need a government permission slip to exercise their constitutional rights,” Renner told the press with special guests that included sheriffs from across the state gathered behind him in support.
Cosponsored by fellow Republicans, state Rep. Chuck Brannan and state Sen. Jay Collins, if passed HB 543 would go into effect on July 1, 2023, and allow those in the Sunshine State to carry a concealed firearm or weapon without the need for a permit so long as they meet the thresholds to lawfully to do so.
“House Bill 543 will ensure Florida will remain a beacon of freedom. Florida was the pioneer in the modern carry movement in America and this historic legislation continues our proud tradition,” the speaker expressed Monday.
Renner also detailed that this was the first of several measures to be introduced pertaining to firearms as other bills will be presented “not only to go after gun crime, people that are stealing guns out of cars…but also to continue to expand the rights for law-abiding citizens.”
Here in Florida, we will always stand up for our God-given rights. #ConstitutionalCarry pic.twitter.com/ggTKT0VDKK
— Jay Collins (@JayCollinsFL) January 30, 2023
If passed, Florida would join 25 other states that have already adopted constitutional carry. However, as written, it would not fully allow for permitless open carry.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey was one of those representing law enforcement in attendance and he said, “It’s about time. Florida is taking this huge step and what we’re doing is checking off the box again and showing that Florida is the freedom state, and showing that citizens have the right to protect themselves.”
“This bill gives our citizens the ability to exercise their Second Amendment, to protect themselves, their family, those around them in church, those around them at the movie theater, or anywhere they may become the victim of a violent attack,” he went on.
Speaking as a victim of rape, U.S. Navy veteran and former law enforcement officer Donna Michaels joined the press conference to share her story and said, “I do not have the luxury of blissful ignorance when it comes to what goes on in the real world. I am cursed with the knowledge of how many evil hearts walk among us every single day looking for their next easy target. This is exactly why we need to pass constitutional carry bill, so that our sons and daughters have the ability to protect themselves from evil and level the playing field with a gun, and preserving the life and happiness they deserve.”
Despite her background, she was denied a concealed carry permit initially after her retirement only to receive it nine months later she explained. “It is these types of government failures that put good citizens in the position between following the laws or protecting themselves and their families.”
BREAKING NEWS: NRA-Backed Constitutional Carry Introduced in Florida pic.twitter.com/kKGzGAxCBd
— NRA (@NRA) January 30, 2023
Though Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) had yet to comment on the introduced legislation at the time of this posting, as recently as December he had voiced his favor for such a measure stating, “What you don’t want is to have a gun government bureaucrat stymie your ability to exercise your constitutional rights.”
As far as visitors to the state of Florida, Brannan chimed in and said, “Maintaining a permit is often wise when traveling out of state, as other states may require non-residents to still have a permit from their state of residence. People don’t have to carry if they don’t want to. But this is a constitutional authority that people have.”
Meanwhile, Collins, himself a retired U.S. Army Green Beret and Purple Heart recipient, praised America’s Governor for leading the state to another step toward protecting freedoms.
“Thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis, who has repeatedly stood up for individual rights and freedoms, we will take this monumental step to ensure that government does not interfere with a law-abiding citizen’s ability to protect themselves and their families,” he said.
The entire press conference can be viewed below: