On Monday, Florida became the 26th Constitutional Carry state, meaning citizens are allowed to carry a concealed weapon without being required to go through the permitting process.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, signed HB543 into law after it passed the Florida Senate by a vote of 27-13 last week. After signing it, he stated simply, “Constitutional Carry is in the books.”
The law allows adults 21 years and older to carry a firearm without getting a concealed carry permit, which requires paying a permit fee, background checks, and training.
Florida Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, who sponsored the bill, called it a “robust public safety measure,” stating in a news release: “Government will not get in the way of law-abiding Americans who want to defend themselves and their families.”
The law doesn’t make any other new allowances. It does not increase who may carry a gun, for example, with those convicted of a felony and domestic violence misdemeanors or who have been dishonorably discharged from the military still banned from having a firearm on their person. It does not allow open-carry, which DeSantis was pushing for.
The law also doesn’t do away with the concealed carry permit if a citizen wants one. Some may choose to still get a permit for their own purposes, such as reciprocity with other states, which will allow them to conceal-carry when traveling out-of-state if they possess a Florida permit.
Some gun rights groups are praising the law. NRA-ILA Interim Executive Director Randy Kozuch told Fox News,
“The NRA applauds Florida for becoming the 26th state to adopt the vital Constitutional Carry legislation. This NRA-spearheaded initiative empowers Floridians to exercise their Second Amendment rights without undue bureaucratic barriers, affirming the fundamental right to self-defense.
We thank Gov. DeSantis for his support of self-defense and Second Amendment laws and for prioritizing the safety and security of Florida residents. This historic moment is a testament to the dedication of the NRA, our members, gun owners, and Second Amendment supporters working together in the state. Today’s NRA victory inspires us to continue advocating for Constitutional Carry laws across the nation, ensuring the protection of Second Amendment rights for all Americans.”
Gun control advocates criticized the law, claiming that it will lead to violence. Some gun rights groups have said the law doesn’t do enough, arguing that though it is being promoted as constitutional carry, it fails to meet that criterion because it still doesn’t allow open-carry.
In fact, the law doesn’t allow citizens to carry a gun everywhere. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the law still restricts guns in a large number of places including polling places, government meetings, courts, schools and universities, universities, places of “nuisance,” airports, and so forth.
Though the new law will make many gun rights advocates happy, it could run into court challenges over the fact that it does not include those adults under 21, as well s due to the continuing vast list of places where firearms are not permitted.
Just last week, on March 31, a federal judge struck down a Minnesota ban on 18- to 20-year-old adults carrying a handgun in public. In accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Pistol and Rifle Association v. Bruen, U.S. District Judge Katherine Menendez ruled that the prohibition was unconstitutional. Under Bruen, which found that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense, laws restricting gun possession must match the historic tradition of firearm laws.
The state asked the judge for a 60-day pause in the injunction while it either files an appeal or figures out how to implement her ruling. Menendez agreed to the request, meaning that adults under the age of 21 won’t be allowed to carry publicly for the next two months.
In January, district court Judge Renee Marie Bumb also relied heavily on the Bruen decision to enjoin a New Jersey law that imposes a list of sensitive places where firearms are not permitted, although that list limited gun possession to nearly everywhere.
Florida’s law promotes the cause of gun rights proponents. The Constitution protects the right of citizens to bear arms. That is a right that is not to be infringed. The Standing for Freedom Center wants to make clear that if citizens are going to carry a gun, they should take it upon themselves to get the training and ongoing practice they need in in how to safely handle the gun. But law-abiding citizens have every right to own and carry a gun for the sake of protecting themselves and their families against those who would attempt to harm them.
As for the limitations on gun possession, Americans must weigh the question: Are 18- to 20-year-old citizens adults or not? This country counts 18-year-olds as adults for nearly every purpose except tobacco and alcohol usage and carrying a gun. Men and women that young can even join the military and take up arms in service to their country.
One of the plaintiffs who brought the case against the Minnesota ban said that she wanted to be allowed to carry a handgun due to concerns about crime and the danger of walking to her car after closing the grocery store where she works at a late hour. She is an adult, expected to go about the world and have a job, but because she was younger than 21, she was not allowed to carry a handgun to defend herself. She is old enough and responsible enough to close the grocery store and trusted enough by the state to drive a car, but when she had to walk to her car in the dark, she was not allowed to carry a firearm to protect herself from criminals. Those ages 18 to 20 are either American adults, or they aren’t. It’s time this country fully recognizes their freedom and their right to protect themselves.
The Bible is more than clear that people have a right to protect themselves from imminent harm and a duty to protect their families from violent people (Luke 11:21, Exodus 22:2). To learn even more about what Christians should know about this issue, check out our biblical worldview article on gun violence, as well as our Theology of Politics white paper on self-defense and the Second Amendment.
Ready to dive deeper into the intersection of faith and policy? Head over to our Theology of Politics series page where we’ve published several long-form pieces that will help Christians navigate where their faith should direct them on political issues.
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