Florida Lawmakers passed legislation on Tuesday allowing worshipers with concealed permits to carry firearms on their persons for church, synagogue, and mosque defense. The bill was signed by Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, and went into effect immediately upon its signing.
HB 259 or the “Church Carry” bill allows for worshipers to carry on the grounds of their place of worship and any property the organization owns. This bill was designed to include the ability to carry even if the place of worship has a school on the property. Until the passing of this bill, there was a prohibition on concealed carry at such locations because of the school grounds.
Churches and places of worship have been the targets for such attacks over recent years for their “soft target” perception, meaning, places that uniformly did not allow individuals with these concealed carry permits to bring weapons on-premises. The bill aims to add a layer of defense to these ever-increasing targets for those who would harm those based on religious affiliation.
The individual places of worship can obviously uphold their own rules to not allow patrons to carry weapons into their property but this now gives worshipers as well as the organizations they are a part of the option as State Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) says.
“There are always threats,” Gruters said. “And all we’re doing is giving them, those religious institutions, the ability and the right to be able to say ‘yes,’ if we choose. We’re going to allow concealed permit holders — it’s not the wild, wild West — we’re giving one of the safest subgroups in our society the ability to carry.”
The bill, while it had its supporters also had its detractors. State Sen. Gary Farmer (D-Lighthouse Point) opposed the Church Carry bill by arguing it is built on the “fallacy” that a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy.
“I go back to this notion that if we do away with gun-free zones, and everybody’s packing a firearm, if a bad person starts shooting, well, you know what, the good guys will rise up and save us,” Farmer said.
“Folks, that has proven to be a fallacy as well. There hasn’t been any Dirty Harry or John McClane or Rambo that’s come to the defense of anyone in any of these mass shootings.”
One thing is for sure, pro-gun rights organizations such as the local Florida Gun Rights and the National Rifle Organization, see this as a win and a long time coming. As this law does come with its support, some say it does not go far enough, bringing constitutional carry into question.
Local news outlet WFLA reports pro-gun organization Florida Gun Rights says the law doesn’t go far enough because it doesn’t make Constitutional Carry the law of the land, though the new legislation is “a step in the right direction.”
Constitutional Carry is the right to legally carry a handgun, openly or concealed, regardless of permit or license. 21 states have Constitutional Carry currently, Florida is not one of them, according to Florida Gun Rights.
With Florida being such a pro-gun state one would be reasonable to believe that there would be an eventual passing, or proposal at the very least in the near future for the “Gunshine State” as some locals call it. However, while other states around the country have passed these laws, Florida’s legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis are quiet on the matter.
Although there has been silence on the matter of constitutional carry, one does have to wonder if it is a rising possibility with this recent expansion of the existing concealed carry laws. Time will tell if that possibility becomes a reality in the red state of Florida.