Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a GOP-sponsored bill into law Monday allowing people to carry concealed firearms anywhere in the state without a permit, after it was overwhelmingly approved in Florida’s state legislature last week, making Florida the 26th state with a permitless concealed carry law.
DeSantis, who is believed to be planning a 2024 presidential run, had been expected to sign the bill into law—he had previously told reporters the bill is “something that I’ve always supported.”
Florida’s Senate voted 27-13 last week to pass the bill, which would do away with Florida’s requirement under state law to obtain a concealed weapons permit and undergo background checks and firearms training in order to carry a concealed gun.
Florida’s House had passed the bill by a vote of 76-32 two weeks ago.
With DeSantis’ signature, gun owners in Florida only need to hold a valid ID to carry a concealed weapon, with a $25 fine for failing to do so.
Florida became the 26th state to pass a law allowing permitless concealed carry, according to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, amid a wave of GOP-led initiatives to loosen gun regulation, despite calls from Democratic lawmakers and gun violence prevention groups to tighten them.
Permitless concealed carry is also legal in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming and North Dakota, which allows it for residents only.
The Florida Senate’s approval of the bill last week came three days after six people were killed, including three children, at an elementary school in Nashville, after police say a 28-year-old former student opened fire. Local police said the alleged shooter, identified as Audrey Hale, possessed two AR-style weapons, including a rifle and a pistol, as well as a handgun. In the wake of the shooting, Democratic lawmakers have called for renewed gun control measures, including President Joe Biden, who called on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban, an effort that failed to pass the Senate late last year. Republican lawmakers, on the other hand, reiterated calls for stricter school security measures and mental health resources, which they argue are necessary to curb mass shootings. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) argued in a speech this week Democrats’ calls for gun reform measures amount to taking guns “away from law-abiding citizens before they even know the facts,” saying, “that’s not the answer.” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), also shot down the idea of enhanced gun control measures, telling reporters at a press conference, “I don’t think one piece of legislation solves this.”
Last Thursday, DeSantis visited a gun store outside Atlanta, dubbed “the world’s largest gun store,” as part of a book tour promoting his book, The Courage to Be Free, a move that sparked pushback from Georgia Democrats, who issued a statement condemning the visit just days after the Nashville shooting. Georgia Democrats also argued the bill in Florida’s legislature would “make it easier for criminals to carry guns” and “make children in his state even less safe.”