On April 3rd, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed 2023 HB 543 into law, allowing for Concealed Carry of Firearms without a permit, effectively Partial Constitutional Carry.
Full Constitutional Carry would include being able to Open Carry a firearm without a permit, alongside the provisions included in HB 543. Open Carry of firearms is illegal in the State of Florida.
“Constitutional Carry is in the books,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
Florida is one of a handful of States that have various restrictions on Open Carry of firearms with some States and U.S. Territories outright banning Open Carry of Firearms.
Prior to HB 543 being signed into law, if Floridians wanted to conceal carry a firearm, they needed to obtain a gun permit through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Commerce. Open Carry was illegal, even with a permit (and still is) save for a few select circumstances.
Florida statute 790.06 prohibits the open carrying of firearms and electric weapons, except for certain circumstances outlined in subsection (2) and as allowed by other laws. Those licensed to carry concealed firearms as provided in s. 790.06(1) are not in violation of this law if the firearm is briefly and openly displayed in a non-threatening manner to an ordinary person unless it is done so with the intent to intimidate or harm.
Under subsection (2), a person may openly carry a self-defense chemical spray or a nonlethal electric weapon or device designed solely for defensive purposes. Violating this law is a misdemeanor of the second degree, subject to punishment as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. This law was first enacted in 1987 and has since undergone several amendments, most recently in 2011.
Luis Valdes, the Florida State Director for Gun Owners of America (GOA), expressed his enthusiasm for a recent victory in the organization's efforts to allow open carry in Florida. Despite their success, Valdes criticized senior GOP lawmakers for failing to support their demands to enact open carry, leaving Florida in the minority of states with restrictive gun laws. Valdes promised that GOA will continue to pressure state lawmakers to build on this victory and pass open carry legislation. He urged all supporters of freedom to rally behind this cause and reject the existing policy that was enacted at the request of former Attorney General Janet Reno, placing Florida in the same category as Illinois and New York.
The pen used to sign HB 543 into law by Governor DeSantis was given to Valdes after the bill was signed.
Valdes for the past few years, alongside Florida Gun Rights when Matt Collins served as State Director for the organization, worked tirelessly to get some form of Constitutional Carry passed and successfully signed into law.
Valdes says the next step for Gun Owners of America will be to work to legalize Open Carry in the State of Florida.
“Back in January, I stood with the Florida Sheriff’s Association and House Speaker Renner as we announced this bill,” said Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers. “I’m thankful to our legislators for their hard work to get this bill passed and onto Governor DeSantis’s desk. Removing the government permission slip for Floridians to protect themselves, their families, and each other is the right move for our state. Any movement towards more freedom for our citizens is always a win.”
Flowers has been serving as Sheriff of Indian River County, Florida since 2020, succeeding Sheriff Deryl Loar.
Flowers notably spoke in-front of the Indian River County Commission in 2021, in favor of making Indian River County a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary County.
A founding member of the 2nd Amendment Defense Coalition of Indian River Lamarre Notargiacomo said “the “permitless carry” legislation signed into law by Governor DeSantis on April 3rd, 2023, should be applauded, but kept in perspective. The legislative acknowledgement that Florida's law abiding citizens do not need permission to carry a firearm for self-defense, is long overdue and a "step in the right direction." But we the people must not settle for half measures in restoring our 2nd Amendment Rights.”
Notargiacomo serves as Vice Chairman of the Republican Executive Committee of Indian River County and as Secretary of the Republican Club of Indian River.
HB 543 takes effect on July 1st, 2023.
Despite HB 543 taking effect later this year, those who wish to purchase handguns will still be required to follow the three-day waiting period per Florida’s State Constitution, Article I Declaration of Rights Section 8(b) Right to bear arms.
Valdes said the State of Florida will still be issuing gun permits in part for reciprocity for States that don’t have Constitutional Carry and that recognize Florida Gun Permits.
Notably, the Press Release put out by Governor DeSantis’s office was seen as lackluster, with barely any detail, compared to other major legislation recently signed into law by the Governor. The press release claims Florida will be the 26th State to Enact Constitutional Carry when in reality, it would be the 26th State to have permitless carry of concealed firearms.
Typically when Governor DeSantis signs major legislation into law, the press release related to said legislation usually have a lot of detail, such as how the new law will benefit Floridians and quotes from various individuals relevant to the bill such as elected officials or advocates who worked to get the bill signed into law.
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