Open Carry Bill Filed on the First Day of Florida’s Legislative Session!
For most gun owners in America, Open Carry has long been the law of their state. But in Florida, peaceful Open Carry of a handgun has been illegal and has been banned in the “Gunshine State” since 1987.
Yes, you read that right: Open Carry is banned in Florida. 45 states have legalized Open Carry, but Florida ain’t one of ‘em!
The state that likes to crow about how it is the freest state in the nation — is, in fact the only Republican-controlled state in the nation that bans Open Carry. The only other four states that outright banned open carry are New York, Illinois, California, and Connecticut. And coming as a shock to no one, the rest of their gun laws are horrendous as well.
But the worst part is, Florida’s Open Carry ban was instituted by then-Dade County State Attorney Janet Reno. Yes, the same Janet Reno, who was Bill Clinton’s Attorney General, had no problem ordering federal law enforcement to enforce an unconstitutional order, which sadly resulted in the murder of women and children.
Republicans, controlling Florida since 2000, have been upholding her ban on Open Carry while touting themselves as pro-gun champions.
Multiple times throughout the past two decades, Open Carry bills have been introduced and smothered by Republican legislative leadership and Republican governors. Previous Republican governors like Rick Scott, Charlie Crist, and Jeb Bush never once lifted a finger to support Open Carry or even publicly state they support it.
Legislative leaders have constantly claimed that they won’t support an Open Carry bill as long as the Florida Sheriffs Association doesn’t support it. Additionally, they have previously hidden behind prior Governors staying silent on the issue and used that silence to bolster their anti-gun stance.
Well, that all changed in 2023 when this author confronted Gov. Ron DeSantis and outright asked him where he stands on Open Carry. Gov. DeSantis said he fully supports repealing the ban, but as governor he couldn’t do much until there is a bill or amendment introduced in the legislature.
That’s where Rep. Mike Beltran stepped up to the plate in the Florida legislature and decided that he’d give Gov. DeSantis a bill.
Rep. Beltran, who is passionate about freedom and liberty, reached out to Gun Owners of America a few months back asking for input on what needs to be in a good Open Carry bill.
Through the hard work of GOA and their friends over at Florida Carry, the candle was burnt at both ends to craft the best Open Carry bill possible. After a lot of back and forth with Rep. Beltran, HB 1619 was finalized and introduced on the first day of Florida’s legislative session.
HB 1619 does a few key things:
- It legalizes Open Carry in Florida.
- College/University Campuses are no longer gun-free zones.
- It repeals the ability for law enforcement to declare someone simply carrying a firearm is an automatic breach of the peace and an arrestable offense.
- If a person still wants to get a Florida CCW permit, the state, not the applicant, shall pay for the fingerprinting.
- Polling places are no longer gun-free zones.
- Adult career centers are no longer gun-free zones.
- Adults under 21 can legally have a handgun in their vehicle if it is securely encased (a loaded firearm in a closed center console or glove compartment is legally defined as securely encased).
The Republican legislative leadership can’t really come up with any excuse this year for killing such a bill.
They can no longer hide behind the governor or the Florida Sheriff Association. Sheriff Bill Leeper of Nassau County, the current president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, has stated in the past that he supports Open Carry. As does Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, who also backs Open Carry. Plus, you have Gov. DeSantis openly stating he backs Open Carry.
What excuse can the Republican legislative leadership really use to defend Democrat anti-freedom gun control policies anymore? Law enforcement supports Open Carry … the Governor supports Open Carry … and as we saw last session, the people support Open Carry too.
The Republican leadership no longer has the ability to claim ignorance on this issue. The people want their Second Amendment rights restored, and HB 1619 is one of the vehicles to accomplish this. HB 1619, in combination with HB 17 and HB 1223, truly makes Florida the “Gunshine State” since HB 17 repeals mandatory waiting periods, and HB 1223 restores adults under the age of 21 to legally purchase firearms.
The legislature and governor must act in defense of the Second Amendment and restore our right to keep and bear arms.