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Gov. DeSantis wants to see constitutional carry implemented in Florida

Current state law requires licensing for a concealed weapons permit. Additional background checks and safety courses are required.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — The Florida legislature doesn't reconvene until April 2023, but we're already getting an idea of what bills to expect. Gov. Ron DeSantis was recently asked about his stance on implementing constitutional carry in Florida. 

“Basically, this was something that I’ve always supported," DeSantis said. "The last two years, it was not necessarily a priority for the legislative leadership... and it’ll be something that will be done in the regular session. That puts us in line with the majority of states that have done that... so we'll get that done.”

Those in support of constitutional carry define it as if you're in legal possession of a firearm, you don't need a permit or license to concealed carry. 

To buy a gun, you'd still be required to complete background checks and fill out government forms. 

To receive a concealed carry permit, you have to complete an instructional safety course, as well as pass additional background checks. 

"During that class, you'd learn about all the laws, statutes, and safety of owning a firearm," Mike Sfakianos, Bill Jackson's Gun Shop manager and buyer, said.

Sfakianos supports constitutional carry. He believes it should be a personal choice to take gun training courses, not one mandated by state law. 

"I think it's up to every individual and their own responsibilities to train themselves correctly and seek out that information," Sfakianos said. 

According to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, 24 states have permitless carry laws. North Dakota has permitless carry for residents only. 

The potential change has some worried about the safety repercussions it could lead to.

"It doesn't do us any good as a society to give a firearm to somebody who's never used one before, and let them go out and, and use it," Jim Diamond said.

Diamond is a former senior sergeant with Tampa Police Department.

"From a law enforcement perspective, constitutional carry where people are allowed to carry openly firearms poses two immediate concerns for me: One is people are not trained to read body language to understand how people are going to react," Diamond explained. "Anytime you see a firearm, there's a potential for a misinterpretation or a mistaken construction of an act."

He continued, "And then a response that puts law enforcement in a box where we approach a scenario of we're dealing with somebody on a call, and everybody is armed or multiple people are armed. So we either overreact because we see too many threats at one time. And we demand that people disarm in our presence, which is going to cause a problem, or we become too acclimated to other people carrying firearms, and we don't readily perceive a threat to ourselves."

For the state to do away with concealed carry permits, a bill needs to be introduced to the legislature. That bill would need to pass in both the House and Senate. If passed, the bill would go to the governor for his signature to become law. 

Malique Rankin is a general assignment reporter with 10 Tampa Bay. You can email her story ideas at mrankin@10tampabay.com and follow her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

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