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Florida Should Adopt Constitutional Carry Because It’s Mainstream

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File

The Sunshine State, with its Republican supermajorities in the state legislature, could soon become the 26th state to have constitutional carry. 

But misinformation from gun control activists distorts permitless carry and erroneously suggests the policy emboldens criminals.

Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA), an aspiring 2024 Democratic presidential candidate who’s failed to control crime in his state, decided to thrust himself into the discussion on permitless carry.

"FACT: Permitless carry does not make you safer," the gun control advocate tweeted. “States that allow concealed carry have higher gun homicide rates. DeSantis’ bill would remove: background checks, instruction, training+oversight, And he’s proposing it near the 5th anniversary of Parkland.” 

However, one Parkland parent, Ryan Petty, shot back at the ghoulish opportunist, countering him with the following: “Hey Gavin, my daughter Alaina was killed at Parkland and I support permit-less carry in Florida.  If my daughter were alive she’d be carrying, because she would be defenseless in a gun free zone. Sit this one out.”

The legislation in question is Florida House Bill 543. It has garnered support from most Florida lawmakers and even Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL). 

Florida Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) tweeted, “#TheFloridaWay respects Floridians' right to bear arms. HB 543 ensures that those who are eligible to own a gun do not need additional permission from the government to carry it.” 

HB 543, if passed, would allow eligible individuals to carry concealed sans permit if individuals carry identification and display it to law enforcement upon request. The bill’s text goes on to say that permitless carry will be prohibited in certain spaces and “authorizes nonresident[s] to carry concealed weapon or concealed firearm in this state if he or she meets [the] same requirements as [a] resident.” 

Another caveat in the proposed bill: anyone who carries concealed with or without license “is subject to specified penalties for possessing such weapon or firearm at school-sponsored event or on school property.”

Florida Speaker Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) tweeted, “#TheFloridaWay respects Floridians' right to bear arms. HB 543 ensures that those who are eligible to own a gun do not need additional permission from the government to carry it.” 

“Basically, this was something that I’ve always supported,” DeSantis said in December. “The last two years, it was not necessarily a priority for the legislative leadership. But we’ve been talking about it, and he’s (Renner’s) pledged publicly that’s moving forward, and it’ll be something that will be done in the regular session.”

Permitless carry isn’t fringe or dangerous as gun control activists claim. As of this writing, 25 U.S. states have adopted permitless carry bills into law. 

Does violent crime increase with the presence of shall-issue carry laws and, by extension, permitless carry laws? Not at all. Even the RAND Corporation, a research organization that aims to shape public policy decisions, debunked this popular refrain. 

Their recent report concluded (bolded for emphasis): “Evidence for the effect of permitless-carry laws on total homicides is inconclusive. Evidence that shall-issue concealed-carry laws may increase violent crime is limited.”

The Carolina Journal observed, “When analyzing violent crime rates of constitutional carry states (with enough data) in years since enactment, the states either reflected the national trend in violent crime or showed a relative decrease in their violent crime rates. It is certainly more likely that violent crime trends nationwide are driven by socioeconomic factors, illegal immigration, family-unit collapse, woke prosecutors, and the opioid crisis than any concealed carry laws. The negative or no net change in violent crime rates in states with constitutional carry easily refutes any assertion that these laws will turn our country into a mythicized view of the Wild West.”

Some in law enforcement foolishly oppose constitutional carry in certain parts of the country, but most will eventually warm up to it when they realize it doesn't interfere with their jobs. That was observed in West Virginia after the legislature passed permitless carry in 2016. This is why several prominent Florida sheriffs are behind HB 543 today.

Last March, I wrote in Washington Examiner how law-abiding citizens are less likely to commit crimes with guns compared to even members of law enforcement: 

According to the Crime Research Prevention Center, firearms violations occur at a rate of 16.5 per 100,000 police officers. When contrasted with permit holders in states such as Florida and Texas, the rate is substantially lower: 2.4 per 100,000. With these new laws, it’s often difficult to gauge their impact on crime. Naturally, gun control proponents claim they’ll lead to lawlessness. But there’s no good evidence of this.

What is fringe, however, is keeping draconian gun control laws on the books that ironically – and deliberately– criminalize lawful firearms ownership and carrying options. 

The inclusion of permitless carry, be it Florida or not, won’t deter residents from retaining or applying for their carry permits. In fact, it remains a practical option to carry in more places and in shall-issue states that have yet to adopt constitutional carry. 

This expansion of Second Amendment rights in the free state of Florida should be welcomed.

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