Mar 23, 2023 - News

Florida permitless carry bill set for a House vote amid protests

David Hogg, March For Our Lives co-founder and Parkland school shooting survivor, speaks during a rally in Washington, D.C., on June 11, 2022. Photo: Craig Hudson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The gun safety advocacy group that formed after the 2018 Parkland school shooting is pushing back on a permitless carry bill that's set to be considered in the Florida House Thursday.

Driving the news: March for Our Lives, a youth-led organization seeking to end gun violence, will protest the bill outside the State Capitol on Thursday.

  • The group's co-founder David Hogg, a survivor of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, will speak at the rally alongside youth activists, Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani and others.

State of play: The bill, which has also quickly advanced in the Senate, would allow Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training.

  • Under current law, residents must undergo firearms training, clear a background check and pay fees when applying for a concealed-carry license.
  • Under the bill, a person could carry a concealed weapon without a license if they meet the current requirements needed to obtain a license, including not having been convicted of a felony or found guilty of a crime relating to controlled substances within a three-year period, per the Sun Sentinel.

The big picture: About half of the U.S. states have some form of a permitless carry law on the books, Axios' Sri Ravipati reports. And Florida appears poised to pass one next.

What they're saying: Alyssa Ackbar, a Florida-based national organizer at March for Our Lives, tells Axios that the bill would worsen gun violence and "undo years of progress" made since the deadly school shooting led then-Gov. Rick Scott to sign a package of new gun restrictions.

  • "This bill encourages anarchy," she wrote in a statement. "We aren't against owning a firearm; we're for reasonable laws that encourage safe and responsible ownership."

The other side: The National Rifle Association argues that the permitless carry bill "ensures that citizens have their right to self-defense without red tape, delays, or fees."

The latest: Republican Rep. Mike Beltran filed an amendment Tuesday that sought to allow gun owners to openly carry their weapons in plain view without a permit, the Florida Phoenix reports. Beltran withdrew the proposal a day later.

  • Some gun-rights activists have called for open carry to be included in the bill, and DeSantis has signaled he would support either version of the legislation.
  • Yes, but: Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has said she would not support open carry because the Florida Sheriffs Association is against it, per the Florida Phoenix.

What we're watching: March for Our Lives is also fighting a separate bill that would reduce the minimum age to buy a rifle from 21 to 18. The age requirement was raised to 21 following the Parkland shooting.

  • But while House Republicans back the bill, there is no version in the Senate, so it's unlikely to become law, WUSF reports.
  • Ackbar said she was "encouraged that it won't pass" because it would be a "slap in the face" to Parkland survivors and victims' families.
  • "This is a dangerous bill and an offensive one to survivors," she said.

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