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‘Constitutional carry’ bill draws critique from both ends of the political spectrum

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Legislation allowing for Floridians to carry concealed firearms without a permit passed its final Senate committee and is now teed up for votes on both the House and Senate floor.

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The bill has created some tension between the Governor and Republican lawmakers in recent days.

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The so-called ‘constitutional carry’ bill would do away with the requirement for lawful gun owners to obtain a permit from the state to carry a concealed firearm.

But the Governor and gun rights groups have argued there’s a big piece missing: Open carry.

“The open carry is something that has been less of a big deal than the concealed carry and in fact Florida is one of only four states, California, Illinois, New York, Florida and the District of Columbia that do not allow any open carry at all. And so, that’s typically not the group of states we want to be in,” Governor Ron DeSantis said on Tuesday.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) said later that same day she won’t support open carry because Florida Sheriffs oppose the idea.

Related Story: Florida lawmakers unveil so-called ‘constitutional carry’ bill

“I will support what the sheriffs of this state, who are the experts. I am not an expert. I don’t know one end of a gun from another,” Passidomo said.

Gun rights advocates attempted to use the Governor’s comments to convince lawmakers to add open carry to the bill in its last Senate committee Thursday morning.

“DeSantis’ book is titled ‘The Courage to be Free’. Do you have that courage?” Luis Valdes with Gun Owners of America to the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy said.

The arguments fell on deaf ears, as did concerns on the other end of the spectrum raised by Jacksonville’s Katie Hathaway with Moms Demand Action.

Related Story: Gov. Ron DeSantis expects to approve ‘constitutional carry’ in Florida

She argued even without open carry, the bill does away with training requirements to carry concealed, and will make Florida a more dangerous place to live.

“America has seen a devastating increase in gun deaths every year and more mass shootings than days this year. This legislation will not make us safer, it’s a threat to everyone’s right to feel safe from gun violence and not be shot,” Hathaway said during public comment.

The bill passed without any substantive changes.

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While the Governor has advocated for the addition of open carry, he has stated he will sign the bill whether open carry makes it into the final product or not.