Florida requires safety training to carry a weapon. That’s ready to change

People who carry concealed weapons in Florida are required to complete a gun safety course, but that could change with a bill backed by the state’s Republican leaders.

“At the center of the idea of ​​freedom is the right that we can defend ourselves against physical attack, as well as defend those we love,” state House Speaker Paul Renner said last week after unveiling a proposed measure to allow the “constitutional charge,” which would eliminate the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed firearm.

“Every aspect of that permit would go away.”

The bill, HB 543, would eliminate permit requirements to carry a concealed weapon. These include completion of a gun safety course and certification that a concealed carry permit is desired for self defense.

If enacted, it would go into effect on July 1.

At a press conference to announce the legislation, Renner expressed confidence that the measure would not pose a serious threat to public safety. “Anyone who owns a gun and uses guns knows that safety comes first.”

Republicans are determined to enact the “constitutional charge” this year

Governor Ron DeSantis has been increasingly vocal in his support for removing concealed carry permit requirements since last spring. At the time, he said he wasn’t sure if there were enough votes to pass the legislature, but Republicans now have large majorities in both chambers and the governor’s endorsement.

“I have said for years that I would sign,” DeSantis said during a press conference in May. Speaking to reporters last week, he said his position had not changed.

At this time, carrying a concealed weapon in public without having a license is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. The only exception is for those who are under a mandatory evacuation order.

The bill’s first committee hearing is this week. The Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law and Government Operations will address the measure Tuesday at 2 pm All committee meetings are open for public comment.

“Eliminating training to become a competent firearms carrier doesn’t strike me as a great public safety measure,” said Rep. Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland). “This is just a step in the wrong direction.”

Democrats have also taken issue with the term “constitutional office.”

“This is not a constitutional carry,” Hunschofsky said. “This is an untrained carry.”

What kind of gun safety training is required?

Under current law, a certificate showing completion of a state-approved gun safety course, with a state-certified or National Rifle Association-certified instructor, is required to obtain a concealed-carry permit. Courses range from those offered by law enforcement agencies to hunter safety courses offered by the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to courses conducted at private shooting ranges.

Students are not tested, and the amount of training and the quality of instruction vary depending on where the course is offered.

“The state leaves it up to the instructor to determine that,” said JD Johnson, co-owner of Talon Range & Tactical Outfitters, a shooting range and gun store outside Tallahassee.

Talon Range offers different levels of training courses, including a gun safety course that meets the permit requirement. “A lot of people come to us because they feel the need to charge and they want to defend themselves, so they have to go through this process.”

In Talon, the permit course lasts eight hours on a Saturday and involves a review of state self-defense and concealed-carry laws, as well as a couple of hours of shooting, Johnson said.

“Our instructors will basically say, ‘Yes, this person can hit the target, they can handle the gun safely, handle the gun, take the gun out of the holster, safely put the gun back in the holster.’ ” he said.

Johnson says he expects his business to suffer if the state eliminates mandatory training to carry a gun. “He’s going to hurt our business,” he said. “No doubt about it”.

However, he says he supports the “constitutional charge.” “Every citizen has the right to have a gun and to defend themselves,” Johnson said. “That’s one of the principles this country was founded on.”

Democrats propose tougher gun laws, but are hopeless

Democrats have introduced several bills aimed at increasing gun safety, including mandatory background checks on ammunition sales and requiring gun dealers to share brochures on current self-defense and gun laws and how to safely store and secure a firearm.

Criminal background checks are required to purchase a firearm, but that doesn’t apply to individual sellers who often sell to customers at gun shows.

Democrats are also proposing to ban semi-automatic and automatic weapons or “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines in Florida.

“In this climate, in particular, where you just saw the Speaker of the House stand up and push for no permits, I don’t think these bills will get a hearing, and that’s a shame,” said Rep. Dan Daley (D-Parkland) who is sponsoring Jaime’s Law, which would require criminal background checks on ammunition sales. He is named after Jaime Guttenberg, who was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at age 14. , and this is just another example of it.”

As for House Speaker Paul Renner, he will support “legislation that expands the rights of law-abiding citizens and holds criminals accountable for threatening the safety of our communities,” wrote Andrés Malavé, director of communications for Renner, in an email. “We’re going to look at the merit of the language, not the letter, ‘R’ or ‘D’, behind the sponsor.”

Public opinion favors stricter gun laws, even in Florida

Twenty-five states have passed laws allowing people to carry guns in public without a permit, but nationwide polls suggest that most Americans oppose carry without a permit laws.

A recent joint poll by the University of South Florida and Florida International University shows that a majority of state voters want stricter gun laws, including universal background checks.

Rep. Christine Hunschofsky says she and other Democrats haven’t heard from many voters calling for an end to mandatory training to carry a gun.

“There’s not a wave to de-train those who want to conceal carry, and that’s happening among gun owners as well,” Hunschofsky said. “We are not talking about opposing gun ownership. We are saying: ‘Gun owners, with rights come responsibilities.’”

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Florida requires safety training to carry a weapon. That’s ready to change