5 things to know about Florida’s permitless carry law

Florida’s permitless carry law takes effect July 1. Here’s what it means for Floridians.
A variety of pistols on display at the gun range during the Smith & Wesson Demo Day at Bill Jackson’s on April 30, 2022, in Pinellas Park.
A variety of pistols on display at the gun range during the Smith & Wesson Demo Day at Bill Jackson’s on April 30, 2022, in Pinellas Park. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published April 3|Updated June 26

A law allowing people to carry concealed guns in public without a permit and without training will take effect Saturday.

People on both sides of the gun debate have taken issue with the legislation — with some decrying the removal of a training requirement and others saying the bill doesn’t go far enough. But state lawmakers hailed it as a win for the Second Amendment and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law in April.

Here’s what to know.

What does it say about training?

Under Florida’s current concealed-carry application process, people must demonstrate “competence” by completing a firearms training course, including firing a gun in front of an instructor. The live-fire provision was added in 2016.

But under the new law, Floridians don’t have to undergo any training in order to carry a concealed weapon.

Bill sponsors Rep. Chuck Brannan, R-Macclenny, and Sen. Jay Collins, R-Tampa, have said they believe training is important but that it’s a personal responsibility.

Democrats offered failed amendments to add back in some sort of training requirement.

Proponents of the bill, including Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, have said the current training courses aren’t sufficient anyway.

The legislation allots $1.5 million for the Department of Law Enforcement to set up grants for local law enforcement agencies to set up their own firearms training.

Does it allow open carry?

No, to the irritation of a number of pro-gun advocates who came to speak out at the bill’s various stops.

When House Speaker Paul Renner first announced the legislation in January, he said it would not allow for openly carrying guns in public. That remained the case despite lobbying from gun rights groups.

Renner said he supports open carry, but there was some concern in the Republican caucus about it. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has said she’s against open carry, saying sheriffs that she’s talked to oppose it and she trusts their opinion.

Can anyone carry a gun?

Only people who meet existing criteria requirements for a concealed carry permit can carry a gun in public, according to the legislation. That includes things like being a citizen, being over 21, not having a disqualifying felony charge and not having certain misdemeanor domestic violence charges or an injunction.

The bill does not alter who can and cannot purchase a firearm. Existing state and federal laws, including requirements for background checks for gun purchases, still apply. There is no permit or training requirement to buy a gun.

Opponents have feared that people who exploit private-seller loopholes to avoid a background check could end up carrying a concealed gun in public with no vetting. But supporters of the legislation have said people who will defy the law would do so anyway.

Does it remove Florida’s permitting process?

No. People can still get concealed-carry permits in Florida if they want, and would need to go through training and an application process to get one. A large swath of U.S. states allow people with a Florida concealed carry license to use that license in their state.

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A permit costs $97 for a new applicant or $55 for an active Florida law enforcement officer. There may be additional tax costs as well.

What else is in the new law?

When the Senate introduced its version of the legislation, it included a package of provisions to refine school safety laws that were implemented in the wake of the deadly 2018 Parkland shooting. The House later included that package in the bill that passed.

The legislation expands the school guardian program to private schools. The guardian program allows a school employee to carry concealed firearms on school grounds.

The bill also requires the Office of Safe Schools to create a standard behavioral threat assessment process, including procedures for making referrals to mental health service providers. It also requires that a threat assessment team include someone who has personal familiarity with the student being assessed.

The legislation also creates the Florida Safe Schools Canine Program, which allows for firearms detection dogs in participating schools.

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