In Florida, just weeks before the anniversary of the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Republicans are pushing to allow people to carry concealed loaded guns without any permits.
Republicans hold supermajorities in both state chambers. The bill, filed Monday by State Representative Chuck Brannon, has a clear path of passage, especially under the wing of Governor Ron DeSantis, who had promised to pass such a bill. Just hours after the bill was filed, a mass shooting in Lakeland, Florida, left 10 people injured.
Meanwhile, though Florida is dominated by Republicans in office, voters seem less enthused by such a proposition. A poll conducted by the Global Strategy Group in December showed that 68 percent of voters in Miami-Dade oppose permitless carry—this includes 65 percent of registered Republicans and 60 percent of voters who said they voted for DeSantis in November.
Once voters were told explicitly that the bill would allow anyone who can purchase a gun to carry it in public, opposition grew by 12, to 80 percent—with 81 percent of Hispanics and 69 percent of DeSantis voters being opposed to such a policy. Moreover, more voters were found to attribute crime to lax gun laws than to lack of police funding.
Another poll conducted last September showed similar results, with 61 percent of Floridian voters opposed to permitless carry, including 71 percent of Hispanics.
Republicans, however, no strangers to proceeding with dangerous and unpopular policies, look poised to steamroll ahead. Along with DeSantis, the bill is endorsed by House Speaker Paul Renner, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, the Florida Sheriffs Association, and of course, the NRA.
If the bill passes, Florida would become the twenty-sixth state to allow permitless concealed carry. This, as the country continues to be plagued by deadly mass shootings. A recent analysis found that states that pass a permitless carry law suffer from a 22 percent increase in gun homicide for the three years following the law’s passage. While states could be responding to the crisis of gun violence in this country, especially after another string of mass shootings this month, Florida instead looks poised to loosen restrictions even further—against the will of its voters, and threatening their lives too.
This post has been updated.