Florida Senate passes bill allowing concealed carry without a permit

The measure will head to the governor, who already said he would sign it
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 4:09 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2023 at 9:46 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Florida Senate passed a bill Thursday to allow Floridians to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

The bill passed 27-13 in the Republican-majority chamber after senators debated the measure for about two hours. It will now head to Gov. Ron DeSantis’s desk. The governor has already said he will pass the legislation.

Proponents of HB 543 say the bill will increase safety in the state.

“Bad guys are going to get guns one way or the other,” Republican Senator Jim Boyd said during Thursday’s debate. “And evil people are going to do bad things with guns. I’ve said it in committee; I’ll say it here on the floor: the best protection against those bad guys with guns is to have more good guys with guns.”

But critics raise concerns about the rising statistics on gun violence nationwide.

“Permitless carry will not make us safer,” Senate Democrat Lori Berman said. “It will turn an orderly system of registration and law into chaos and lawlessness. And it’s not only irresponsible to advance this agenda at the expense of our citizens’ safety—it’s shameful.”

While the legislation removes training required to carry a concealed gun, it does prohibit people from carrying concealed guns in some locations, including prisons, schools, polling places and most athletic events. It would also expand the state’s guardian program, which allows trained personnel to carry guns on campus.

Lawmakers are also considering a separate bill that would lower the minimum age to buy a gun from 21 to 18.