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Disregarding Tragedy: What Does Permitless Carry Mean for the State of Florida?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Yesterday, the Florida State Senate began taking up House Bill 543, otherwise known as the permitless carry bill. This bill, already having passed the House with a 76-32 vote, will allow gun owners to carry concealed firearms without a required permit. With the passing of this bill, the people of Florida will no longer be required to undergo basic safety training and specific background checks to conceal carry.

Already within the deliberation, the Florida Senate has rejected an amendment proposing safe gun storage, requiring guns to be stored safely and properly and raising penalties to a felony if a child were to get their hands on an improperly stored gun. This bill will soon be voted on, calling for decreased regulation of gun control and safety measures by the government.

What does this bill mean for the state of Florida?

Tampa Republican Senator Jay Collins, the sponsor of this bill, believes that this will be a big step for the State of Florida. “This is a monumental codification of our right to bear arms, and it does fantastic things for our schools to keep them safe and take care of those things we love the very most — our children — when we can’t be there with them.” Fellow supporters of the bill believe this will mean that Florida will become more in line with the second amendment, referring to it as “constitutional carry.” Many Republicans, such as Representative John Snyder, argue that this will not affect gun violence, and would more so allow Floridians to protect themselves without government interference.

Critics and scientists say otherwise.

A study by Johns Hopkins was conducted to examine aspects of policy change, one being how less restrictive concealed carry laws impact gun violence. This study finds a significant increase in assaults with firearms in states that relax the restrictions on concealed carry permits. Mitchel Doucette, Ph.D., assistant scientist at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, comments that violent crime, in general, increased after loosening requirements, and that “allowing more individuals to carry concealed guns in public—including some who would have previously been denied carry permits due to prior arrests or restraining orders—can increase inappropriate use of firearms in response to interpersonal conflicts, disputes or other situations.”

Much of the critique around this bill focuses on the dangerous consequences this would have for Florida, particularly for school children and minority communities. Florida is a state with a horrific history of mass shootings, with the year 2023 already seeing seven Florida mass shootings as of Feb. 23 and the previous year seeing 31 mass shootings. According to the Gun Violence Archive, “gun violence has taken the lives of 37 children nationwide, with 86 more injured” as of Feb. 26.

There is also fear that this bill would disproportionately impact Black and other minority communities, who would be at a higher risk for profiling. Representative LaVon Bracy Davis, D-Ocoee, brings up how “Black Americans are 14 times more likely to be shot than white Americans. So our communities will feel the horrific impact of this bill 10-fold.

This nation has a bitter history of gun violence. Look to Florida’s past and you’ll find the inhumanity of the Orlando nightclub and Parkland shootings. Look to the news and feel the utter pain and horror of Nashville amidst its recent school shooting.

What does this bill mean for the state of Florida?

It means more unreadable headlines, more weeping parents, more violence and more fear. As Parkland survivor David Hogg puts it, this bill will come at the expense of Floridian blood.

The voting on this will commence today. There is still time to use your voice and take a stand against this bill alongside your fellow Floridians. Call your representatives today, find your elected official here, and tell them to vote NO on HB 543. This is your state and the issue of your safety, so make your opinion known before it’s too late.

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Alexa is a Senior majoring in English and Political Science. Her hobbies include stealing cats and creating voice memos to look back on <3 You can find her running on the track at three in the morning crying to Mitski!