As Hillsborough state attorney, my mission is straightforward: To build a safer community while promoting fairness and justice. And although, as a federal judge found, Gov. Ron DeSantis unconstitutionally suspended me from my office, I will continue to speak out on issues that affect our justice system or our constitutional rights. I refuse to remain quiet when our safety and freedoms are being compromised for political gain.
By supporting permitless carry, DeSantis and other lawmakers are pushing a reckless idea: removing oversight on who can carry a concealed weapon. Permitless carry makes our neighborhoods more dangerous for everyone, including police officers. Requiring permits ensures those carrying guns in public have gone through a background check and basic training. Eliminating this minimal and commonsense regulation takes a critical tool away from law enforcement — their ability to ask someone they’ve stopped who is carrying a firearm to show them their permit — making it easier for criminals to get away with having guns. And permitless carry would increase the likelihood of routine arguments turning into deadly confrontations — for civilians and police.
Proponents of permitless carry ignore these inconvenient truths and instead falsely claim that these commonsense permitting requirements are unconstitutional when the U.S. Supreme Court (in an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia) made clear that reasonable regulation is perfectly consistent with the Second Amendment. Almost 9 out of every 10 Americans believe a person should have to obtain a permit to carry a concealed gun in public, and more than 8 in 10 Americans agree that high safety standards are critical in issuing concealed carry permits.
Why then, would DeSantis support unpopular legislation that threatens public safety, benefits criminals and makes law enforcement’s jobs harder and more dangerous?
The answer is simple: politics. DeSantis’ actions on several recent issues have made crystal clear that he is focused on pandering to the far right to help his presidential aspirations. Here, he is choosing the gun lobby over public safety, and political ambition over common sense.
The fact that DeSantis wanted guns banned from his own campaign victory party but didn’t want to take the heat for it is the height of hypocrisy. It shows he knows what is best for his own safety and the safety of his own family, but is willing to sacrifice the safety of others.
In the wake of a new year defined by gun violence in Florida and across the country, the last thing we need is to weaken our gun laws with permitless carry. Unfortunately, permitless carry is likely to pass in a Legislature that rubber stamps whatever DeSantis wants. After it does, when you see a person walking down main street with an angry look in his eye and a gun barely concealed under his shirt, and you experience that sudden moment of fear, worrying about bad intentions while pulling your child close, be sure to thank the governor.
Andrew Warren, a Democrat, was first elected Hillsborough state attorney in 2016 and was reelected in 2020. In a controversial move, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him last year, a suspension that Warren is currently appealing.