Almost Anyone in Florida Can Hide a Loaded Gun in Public—Legally
Florida has infamously weak gun laws that put its residents at risk. They just got worse.
It’s official—you no longer need a background check, training, or to have ever fired a gun to carry a pistol or rifle in public in Florida.
Historically, if you want to carry a hidden gun in public, you have to pass or complete a set of public safety standards to get a permit, like a background check or a training course. Permitless carry laws, dangerous measures supported by the gun lobby, strip these important protections.
Samantha Barrios—Jul 17, 2023
Alarmingly, many states have weakened or eliminated public carry requirements in recent years. As of July 2023, 27 states have enacted permitless carry bills, and many more have vowed to do the same.
Now, Florida is one of them. In April, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a reckless and unpopular “Anyone with a Gun” bill that allows nearly everyone to carry a gun in public. And as of July 1, permitless carry is now the law of the land in Florida.
And what a weekend for it to kick into gear. The days around the Fourth of July often see higher spikes of gun violence, and this year was no exception. At least 18 people were killed in mass shootings across the country, and more than a hundred were injured.
Florida didn’t escape the bloodshed. Near Tampa, a seven-year-old boy was shot and killed when an argument over jet skis escalated into a shooting on Independence Day. I’m a mother of two young children, and I’m sickened by what this law says about the state I love. There’s no excuse for incidents like this—each and every gun death is preventable.
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The Dangers of Permitless Carry
Months after Texas enacted a permitless carry law, a father of three was shot to death in an argument about a parking spot. Just days after Georgia enacted permitless carry, an 18-year-old shot a man in a supermarket over a dispute in the meat department. Too often, everyday arguments escalate into violent conflicts thanks to the increased number of guns in public.
There’s no question that the new permitless carry law is bad for Florida. Weakening public carry laws is associated with a 13–15% increase in violent crime rates, as well as an increase in rates of homicides committed with handguns. One recent study found that when states weaken their concealed carry laws, they experience a 22% increase in gun assaults and a 35% increase in gun homicides.
Weak public carry laws also require law enforcement to deal with the challenges of an increasingly armed public, in turn contributing to more shootings involving police and growing fractures in police-community trust. Coupled with Florida’s lack of universal background checks, permitless carry makes it far too easy for people prohibited from owning a gun to carry one in public with no oversight by law enforcement.
States regularly require training in a number of different fields as a means to promote public health and safety. On average, states require 1,551 hours of training to obtain a license to cut hair, 500 hours of training to obtain a massage therapist license, and 377 hours of training to become a licensed manicurist. But the 27 states with permitless carry laws require zero hours of training—or even require that a person has ever held a gun—to carry a loaded firearm in public.
Thanks to Florida’s previous concealed carry law, between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, 7,605 Florida residents with a disqualifying history were denied concealed carry permits. Now, many of them would have no problem accessing and carrying a hidden, loaded gun freely in public.
Floridians Don’t Want Permitless Carry
GIFFORDS Florida, the largest gun safety political program focused solely on Florida, launched a multipronged ad campaign against this dangerous legislation. We placed a full-page ad in the Miami Herald, released bilingual radio and digital ads, and launched bilingual billboards—investing a six-figure effort against this bill.
And our efforts paid off. Permitless carry is opposed by a majority of Floridians—and especially Hispanic voters. Recent polling by GIFFORDS and Global Strategy Group shows that more than three quarters of Miami-Dade voters say gun violence was very important to their vote in November, and that 60% of Miami-Dade voters strongly oppose permitless carry. It’s also opposed by law enforcement and doctors across the state.
But none of this stopped radical Republicans from ensuring that it made its way through the Florida legislature and to DeSantis’s desk. By passing this law, DeSantis and Republican lawmakers ignored their constituents and proved they only care about the corporate gun lobby.
We have a gun violence epidemic in Florida. But instead of trying to keep Floridians safe, DeSantis shoved through a dangerous, unpopular permitless carry law that will allow almost anyone to carry a gun in public. He has failed our state and our children, but GIFFORDS Florida isn’t backing down. We will always fight to make the dream of a future free from gun violence a reality.
JOIN THE FIGHT
Nearly 40,000 Americans lose their lives to gun violence every year. In communities, courts, and ballot boxes nationwide, Giffords fights to save lives from gun violence. Will you join us?