FL: Gov. Ron DeSantis, Will You Use Your Bully Pulpit To Push Open Carry?

It is a very simple question. Will Gov. Ron DeSantis use the authority of his office and advocate for pro-gun legislation in 2024?

As it stands, we’re just past the first week of the 2024 legislative session and the Republican House leadership has already said that HB 1619 (Open Carry) is dead on arrival.

Gun Owners of America worked hard to craft this bill with Rep. Mike Beltran this past fall, and Rep. Beltran introduced the bill on the first day of the 2024 session.

Open Carry should have been part of the permitless carry bill that was introduced and passed last session – but it was excluded against the work of GOA activists and pro-gun Floridians.

Instead, Florida’s gun owners, who have been extremely loyal to Republican lawmakers and Gov. DeSantis, got a quagmire of a bill last year. A bill that was touted as being Constitutional Carry (HB 543) was anything but.

It simply lifted the requirement to have a permit to conceal carry a firearm.

Was the permitless concealed-only carry a small step in the right direction? Yes, it was.

And during the entire battle in 2023 for that bill, GOA pushed for Open Carry to be added to it so the bill could be a real Constitutional Carry bill.

But the bill as it was written wasn’t true Constitutional Carry, even though lawmakers and Gov. DeSantis crowed that it was.

In fact, while that bill was being debated in the legislature, this author asked Gov. DeSantis where he stood on Open Carry. Gov. DeSantis said he “absolutely” supported it — however, when confronted by the media afterwards, he said that he won’t expend political capital on “what ifs” since, at the time, no lawmaker had introduced an amendment or a bill to legalize Open Carry.

That’s why GOA teamed up with Rep. Beltran to fix Florida’s half-measure bill from last year and introduced HB 1619 – making open carry legal in Florida.

It is now time for Gov. DeSantis to show Florida’s gun owners where he stands and tell the legislators to make Open Carry their #1 priority during the 2024 legislative session.

Or will he allow the Republican supermajority legislature to smother this bill, like what happened during his first term as Governor when former Rep. Anthony Sabatini introduced a real Constitutional Carry three years in a row?

That bill included permitless CONCEALED and OPEN Carry, but sadly, Gov. DeSantis never used his office as the bully pulpit to push that bill the three years it was introduced.

Currently, House Speaker Paul Renner said that HB 1619 is dead on arrival since his Republican Senate counterparts are against it. The House Speaker said he doesn’t want to waste the House’s time by advancing a bill he knows is dead.

Yet last year, he had no issue advancing the Under-21 Purchase Ban repeal bill, knowing that the Senate was against it.

The House Speaker, by killing HB 1619, is covering for the anti-gun Republicans in the House who would have to show their constituency their true colors — that they’re anti-gun.

Gov. DeSantis’s silence on this issue provides cover to House Speaker Renner and the anti-gun Republicans in the legislature as a whole.

Gov. DeSantis can use his office and defend the rights of Floridians to fully exercise their Second Amendment as Americans do in every other Republican state.

He has missed several opportunities to push Republican legislators the way other governors have. His counterparts in Texas and Georgia didn’t stay silent on gun rights. They held multiple press conferences openly challenging their state’s legislatures to pass real Constitutional Carry bills.

Florida is the only Republican state in the nation with a ban on Open Carry, Mandatory Waiting Periods, and a ban on adults under the age of 21 from being able to legally purchase and carry firearms.

Plus, we have numerous gun-free zones and even have anti-gun laws on the books that were written by Democrats and currently defended by Republicans. Previously, Gov. DeSantis has campaigned that he is pro-gun and stated gun-free zones don’t work. But his own campaign got caught demanding public spaces be turned into gun free zones, a possible violation of state law.

Florida is ranked dead last among Republican states on gun rights.

Florida’s gun owners are not fools and we don’t become easily tamed with cheap table scraps thrown our way. We demand a full restoration of our rights.

That’s why I need you to contact Gov. DeSantis and tell him that he needs to walk his talk He needs to publicly support HB 1619 and challenge the Republican legislative leadership. If he doesn’t, then his silence tells Florida’s gun owners where he stands on the Second Amendment.

In liberty,

Luis Valdes
Florida State Director
Gun Owners of America

PS – Please share this alert and donate to GOA. Also, click here and read GOA’s latest article in the Orlando Sentinel, where GOA calls out the Republican leadership for the previous failures to advance pro-gun legislation. WUCF-TV/PBS said it best about GOA, we’re the only “no compromise” gun rights organization in Florida.