Governor DeSantis signs permitless carry bill

Photo courtesy Office of Governor Ron DeSantis


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 543 today; the bill, which goes into effect on July 1, 2023, allows some Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a government-issued permit but falls short of a Constitutional Carry bill, which DeSantis said he would sign if passed by the legislature.

The bill authorizes carrying a concealed firearm if an individual:

  • is a resident of the U.S. and a citizen or permanent resident alien of the U.S.;
  • is 21 years of age or older;
  • does not suffer from a physical infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a firearm;
  • has not been convicted of a felony;
  • has not been found guilty of certain crimes relating to controlled substances within the preceding three years;
  • does not chronically use alcohol or drugs to the extent that normal faculties are impaired (this includes provisions about convictions for substance abuse within the preceding three years);
  • has not been adjudicated an incapacitated person;
  • has not been committed to a mental institution;
  • has not had adjudication of guilt withheld or a suspended sentence on any felony in the preceding three years;
  • has not had adjudication of guilt withheld or a suspended sentence on any misdemeanor crime of domestic violence within the preceding three years;
  • is not under an injunction for domestic violence or acts of repeat violence;
  • is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm under any other provision of Florida law;
  • has not been found guilty of or had adjudication of guilt withheld for a violent misdemeanor crime of violence.

In addition, anyone carrying a concealed weapon or firearm must carry valid identification and must display it upon demand by a law enforcement officer. Firearms are still prohibited in a long list of locations, including most government buildings, educational institutions, and bars.

An individual who carries a concealed weapon other than a firearm who does not meet the above criteria commits a misdemeanor of the first degree; an individual who carries a concealed firearm and does not meet the criteria commits a felony of the third degree.

New provisions for firearms inside vehicles

The statute also provides that people 18 years of age or older may possess a handgun or weapon inside a private vehicle if it is securely encased or otherwise not readily accessible for immediate use; the handgun may not be carried on the person’s body. That section adds this provision: “This subsection shall be liberally construed in favor of the lawful use, ownership, and possession of firearms and other weapons, including lawful self-defense.”

Additional provisions for schools and law enforcement agencies

The bill also extends the school guardian program to private schools, including contracting with a sheriff to train school employees for a school guardian program. It requires every law enforcement agency to create and maintain an active assailant response policy by October 1, 2023, and train all of its sworn personnel on the policy within 180 days.

The bill adds a new requirement that the Office of Safe Schools in the Florida Department of Education develop a statewide behavioral threat management operational process, a Florida-specific threat assessment instrument, and a threat management portal, to be used by all school districts and charter schools. Each school district and charter school must also establish a threat management team using the statewide behavioral threat management operational process.

The bill authorizes the State Board of Education to adopt emergency rules regarding the reporting of serious crimes by school districts, beginning in the 2023-24 school year. The bill states, “The Legislature finds that school district discretion over reporting criminal incidents to law enforcement has resulted in significant under-reporting of serious crimes.”

Another provision creates the Florida Safe Schools Canine Program to encourage the use of firearm detection K-9s in schools. The program “seeks to foster relationships between schools, local businesses, and law enforcement, promoting trust and confidence in the ability of law enforcement to keep schools and communities safe.” The program encourages K-12 schools to partner with law enforcement to raise funds in the local community for donations to purchase, train, or care for a firearm detection K-9.

Criticisms of the bill

The bill has been criticized by conservatives who support true Constitutional Carry, including open carry; every state except Florida, Illinois, and New York has some form of open carry. Luis Valdes, Gun Owners of America’s State Director for Florida, said, “This has been a long, hard-fought battle, and we are excited to get a victory over the finish line. Still however, senior GOP lawmakers have rebuffed our demands at every turn to enact open carry, which leaves Florida in very liberal company. GOA will continue our efforts to pressure state lawmakers to step up to the plate, build off this victory, and enact open carry. Keeping a policy on the books that was enacted at the behest of Janet Reno, which leaves us in the company of Illinois and New York, is something that every freedom lover should get behind.” 

  • About time it’s a shame they didn’t include open carry. Now with this passed and in place let’s see how many locals start carrying and stop being victims around gainesville stop people from robbing you or get out of there car and punching you in the face.

    • I bet you will see a bunch of people getting arrested by the cops when these yahoo’s start pointing them out their windows when suffering from road rage…
      Gun ownership is a big responsibility and doesn’t mean you’re a cop. It’s for personal defense. I liked the idea of having training and knowing the laws and concealed weapons permits…I will still renew my permit. If you are a felon and get caught with a gun, it should be 10, 20, life. Sure wish they would have clarified that.

  • I hope people exercise their rights if they want to carry. I will keep and continue to renew my CCW permit though.

  • I also hope lawful citizens also understand the responsibility of firearms training and self defense. It is a huge burden to bear taking a life. It’s something you live with everyday no matter how justified you are. Not to mention the civil liabilities and the criminal investigation, along with a grand jury process that you will go through. It’s best to have an attorney if you fire a weapon. You never know how receptive law enforcement will be towards you. Protect yourself and protect your rights.

    • Maybe they should have required that if you do carry and don’t have a CWP, that you have to carry liability insurance if you do something illegal with it and have to pay the other persons medical bills, etc.

      • Maybe they should require criminals to carry liability insurance so when they “do something illegal” they have to pay the other persons medical bills etc.

  • That’s a long list of exceptions. Where can I find those exceptions mentioned in the 2nd Amendment?

  • Children who misbehave should be tattooed 666 on their foreheads, too.

  • The State has provided part of the means to prevent lawful citizens from being victims of an injustice. Now it falls on those who are legally able to even the playing field with those criminals who lack justice.

    Don’t squander it. Get the proper training, learn to use whatever firearm you choose. Protect yourselves and your families. If the criminals are prepared, there’s no longer a reason for you not be.

  • I like the idea of these “firearm detection K9’s! 😁 Every patrol cop should have one!

    • It doesn’t matter what color you are: just follow law enforcements commands and keep your hands where they can see them and don’t run…

  • I like the ideas in HB 543 but my S&W 1911 isn’t a comfortable concealed carry in Florida ‘warm weather wear’ and I want jumbo eggs more than another sidearm at about the same price.

    It was a nice start to the day until I read Janet Reno’s name…..

  • what good does it do to have a firearm in your car for protection if it is supposed to be inaccessible?

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