A year after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed permitless carry into law, it looks like the Florida legislature is actively trying to keep any and all pro-Second Amendment legislation from getting to his desk, and Gun Owners of America’s Florida state director is calling out lawmakers for their inaction.
State Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has previously said she has no interest in a House bill that would lower the age to purchase a firearm in the state from 21 to 18, calling it a non-starter, while attempts to end the state’s ban on open carry have stalled in the House. In a state with Republican supermajorities, the lack of movement on these bills has at least one Second Amendment advocate spitting fire.
“You have a Republican House Speaker state that he and his Republican colleagues don’t have an ‘appetite’ to debate and vote on open carry. You have a Republican Senate President state that repealing the under-21 purchase ban is a ‘non-starter’ Yet both have the nerve to campaign that they’re pro-gun,” says Luis Valdes, Florida state director of Gun Owners of America (GOA).
Valdes and other Second Amendment aficionados are also steamed at DeSantis for failing to push for an open carry law which he said he supported a year ago. That measure (HB 1619) was introduced at the beginning of the 2024 session by Hillsborough GOP Rep. Mike Beltran but was immediately dismissed by Republican leadership last month.
“GOA got him on record where he said he ‘absolutely’ supports open carry,” Valdes says. “Well, actions speak louder than words and the governor’s inaction is deafening.”
Part of the problem is that both Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner are term-limited, so neither are running for reelection this year and have no need to campaign as pro-Second Amendment advocates. The good news is that gives gun owners a chance to replace these lawmakers with folks who are willing and ready to fight for our Second Amendment rights, instead of putting them on the back burner.
With a legal challenge to Florida’s under-21 gun ban pending in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, there’s also a solid chance that the courts will provide the relief to young adults that lawmakers have denied them, but if gun owners in the Sunshine State are ever going to be able to openly carry outside of limited circumstances it’s probably going to take legislative action.
The opposition to open carry, particularly on the part of some GOP lawmakers, is crazy to me given that Florida is one of only three states where open carry is largely banned. The other other two? Illinois and California, along with the District of Columbia; none of which are exactly hotbeds of Second Amendment support.
Ending Florida’s prohibition should be a relatively easy lift, but HB 1619 has been languishing in a House subcommittee since it was introduced last month, and there’s no sign that it will even get a hearing, much less a vote, thanks in large part to Renner’s insistence that there’s no appetite for the change among his Republican colleagues.
Could DeSantis apply enough pressure to lawmakers to get the bill moving? Possibly, though with both Renner and Passidomo not running for reelection there aren’t a lot of carrots the governor could dangle in front of them to get them to change their minds, and with the legislature already 2/3rds of the way through this year’s session there’s also not a lot of time to advance HB 1619 this year. Second Amendment activists are right to be frustrated by the inaction in Tallahassee this year, but they need to channel their righteous anger toward the primaries that will take place in August and select candidates who have vocally supported both open carry and repeal of the state’s post-Parkland gun control laws if they want to see these bills move forward next year.