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Gov. DeSantis signs a permitless carry bill into law in Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit in Florida on Monday, April 3, 2023.
Office of Governor Ron DeSantis
Governor's Press Office
Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit in Florida on Monday, April 3, 2023.

It will soon become legal in Florida to carry a gun without training or a permit after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a permitless carry measure into law on Monday morning.

"Constitutional carry is on the books in Florida," DeSantis said in an emailed statement from his office. The new law takes effect on July 1, and will make Florida the 26th state in the U.S. to enact legislation allowing people to carry firearms without a permit.

DeSantis signed the bill in front of more than a couple dozen supporters, including Republican legislative leaders, the bill's sponsors, law enforcement officers and gun rights advocates.

“Under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, here in the free state of Florida, government will not get in the way of law-abiding Americans who want to defend themselves and their families,” said state Sen. Jay Collins (R-Tampa) who sponsored the measure.

The governor's office did not notify the public of the signing before it took place. House Democratic lawmakers blasted the governor's office for signing the measure "out of the public eye."

“Governor DeSantis signing the permitless carry bill into law out of the public eye tells you everything you need to know about the Republican extremist agenda to secure an A+ rating from the NRA,” said House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell (D-Tampa) in an emailed statement.

Driskell added the following: "Florida House Democrats will continue to advocate for safe and responsible gun ownership policies that will help ensure that gun owners know how to operate a firearm and can keep themselves and those around them safe."

University of North Florida conducted a statewide survey of registered voters in late February - early March that found 67% are strongly opposed to allowing people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

Among Republicans, a majority — 62% — said they were strongly or somewhat opposed to permitless carry.

"Even the Governor must know how wildly unpopular this bill is with Floridians," said state Rep. Dan Daley (D-Parkland) in an emailed statement after the signing. Daley is sponsoring legislation that would require criminal background checks on ammunition sales.

The measure also contains provisions aimed at increasing school safety, including funding for school hardening projects, the creation of a gun-detecting canine program and allowing private school teachers to be armed.

Valerie Crowder is a freelance journalist based in Tallahassee, Fl. She's the former ATC host/government reporter for WFSU News. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.